NBA: Celtics down Thunder to stretch NBA win streak to seven

Jayson Tatum (No. 0) of the Boston Celtics during their NBA clash at the at TD Garden on Nov 14. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON – It is still early in the National Basketball Association (NBA) season, but the “resilient” Boston Celtics have shown that they have got what it takes to make it to a second straight NBA Finals on current form.

On Monday, Jayson Tatum scored 27 points and Jaylen Brown added 26 to lead the team over Oklahoma City 126-122 at home, stretching their win streak to seven games, which is the best of any team at the moment.

Crucially, Boston are now top of the Eastern Conference on 11-3, also the best current record in the league.

Marcus Smart added 22 points, Al Horford had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Tatum also contributed 10 rebounds as victory meant that the Thunder fell to 6-8.

The Celtics, down by seven at half-time and after three quarters, outscored Oklahoma City 37-26 in the fourth quarter to rally for the win, with Derrick White coming off the bench to score 16 points.

“I thought our bench did a great job of bringing the energy and picking us up,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, whose team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals in June.

“I thought especially in the second half, we didn’t allow our lack of shot-making to affect our defensive effort. That to me is a sign of growth for the team.”

Payton Pritchard added 10 points and two steals in a reserve role.

“We were a little sluggish starting this game,” he said.

“I think the second half we just wanted to come out, pressure the ball, make them uncomfortable and that led to points on the other end.

“Stay being resilient. That’s what it is. Got to be resilient always.”

Brown agreed that the team ground out the victory.

“Tonight was a resilient win, a tough game to win,” he said.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault, whose team are down in 13th in the Western Conference, took the positives from the game despite the loss.

He said: “There were a lot of bright spots. We really put it to them. We controlled the game on the road against a great team, which is a credit to our guys.”

Boston moved atop the East after the Milwaukee Bucks fell to 10-3 with a 121-106 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

De’Andre Hunter led the Hawks with 24 points, while Trae Young added 21 points and nine assists.

Dejounte Murray and Clint Capela each had 19 points, and Capela had 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who improved to third in the East at 9-5.

The Bucks have now lost their second straight after a 9-0 start to the season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 27 points and added eight rebounds and four assists. The Milwaukee star missed the last two games and three of the last four after suffering soreness in his left knee.

However, he admitted that he was a bit rusty after making eight of 21 shots and missing all three three-point attempts. The forward was also only 11 of 18 from the free-throw line.

“When was the last time I played, like six or seven days ago, a week ago?” Antetokounmpo said.

“But that’s part of it. You can’t get too low or get too high. It’s part of it. You can’t expect to be at your best when you haven’t played for a week.” AFP

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