NBA: Irving hails Celtics’ ‘great rhythm’

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant tussling for the ball during the second half of their NBA game at TD Garden on Sunday. Irving hit 30 points and had 11 assists in his team's 134-129 win.
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant tussling for the ball during the second half of their NBA game at TD Garden on Sunday. Irving hit 30 points and had 11 assists in his team's 134-129 win.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Kyrie Irving scored 30 points and passed out 11 assists on Sunday as the Boston Celtics snapped Oklahoma City's seven-game National Basketball Association win streak with a 134-129 home triumph.

Marcus Morris added 19 points and Marcus Smart netted 18, as eight of nine players taking the court for Boston scored in double figures and the Celtics improved to 34-19, matching Philadelphia for third in the Eastern Conference.

"We have great continuity, great rhythm," Irving said. "Playing the best we can every single day."

The Thunder fell to 33-19, four games adrift of Western Conference leaders Denver and Golden State, despite a sixth consecutive triple-double from Russell Westbrook, who had 22 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.

Westbrook hit a three-pointer, made a steal and sank two free throws to pull the visitors within 121-119 in the final minutes.

Jerami Grant's three-pointer lifted the Thunder to trail 129-128. Boston's Jayson Tatum hit only one of two free throws but Irving forced a Westbrook turnover and Tatum added two more from the line to give the Celtics a 132-128 edge with 7.4 seconds to play.

Westbrook sank a free throw but missed the rim on his second attempt trying to set up a Thunder rebound and the Celtics took the ball, Smart hitting two final free throws to seal the victory.

"Down the stretch, it's winning time. Just like that," Irving said. "That's a great team over there. It was a great challenge."

Paul George led the Thunder with 37 points and New Zealand's Steven Adams added 16 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City.

"We played with more aggressiveness on offence and we moved better on defence," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, whose club improved to 20-0 at home when leading after three quarters.

The Celtics hit a season-best 59 per cent of their shots from the floor.

In Toronto, the Raptors ripped the Los Angeles Clippers 121-103 behind 18 points from Kawhi Leonard, plus 16 points and 12 rebounds from Congo-born Spaniard Serge Ibaka.

The Raptors improved to 38-16, second in the East by 11/2 games to Milwaukee, while the Clippers fell to 29-25, clinging to the last Western Conference play-off spot by one game over Sacramento.

Separately, the Los Angeles Lakers are continuing to pursue New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who has demanded a trade and reportedly has a mutual interest in joining the LeBron James-led team.

According to ESPN, the Lakers are willing to part with a combination of picks and players, including Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball, to acquire Davis and pair him up with James.

However, they will have to act fast, with the trade deadline approaching on Thursday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2019, with the headline 'Irving hails Celtics' 'great rhythm''. Print Edition | Subscribe