Irving, Celtics outlast Thunder in 134-129 thriller
BOSTON — Eight days after letting a win slip away against the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics were able to finish the job against another tough Western Conference opponent.
Kyrie Irving had 30 points and 11 assists as Boston overcame big games from Oklahoma City stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook to snap the Thunder’s seven-game win streak in a 134-129 thriller on Sunday.
Boston has won four straight since a 115-111 home loss to the Warriors on Jan. 26 and has won nine of its last 10 games overall.
“We battled against Golden State, but (this is) a good win,” said Al Horford, who had 17 points and nine assists. “This team has been playing really well and it’s just good to get this win here at home.”
Marcus Morris had 19 points, Marcus Smart added 18 and seven assists and Daniel Theis had 14 off the Celtics bench.
George scored 37 points and Russell Westbrook notched his sixth straight triple-double and 19th of the season with 22 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.
“We just played a good team,” George said. “I thought they made some big plays, big shots. Gotta live with it.”
Steven Adams and Dennis Schroeder each had 16 points for Oklahoma City, and Jerami Grant scored 15.
Oklahoma City suffered its first loss since a 138-128 overtime setback against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 17.
Westbrook made two free throws to pull Oklahoma City within 127-125 with 45.9 seconds remaining after Boston had led by six with 1:27 to go.
Irving’s driving finger-roll with 23.3 seconds left put Boston up by four, but Grant answered with a 3-pointer to bring the Thunder within 129-128.
Oklahoma City squandered a chance to take the lead after Jayson Tatum missed one of two free throws. Irving stripped Westbrook with 8.1 seconds on the clock and Horford got the ball back to Tatum, who sealed the win at the line.
“In a (tight) game like that, I’ve just got to take care of the ball, so that’s on me,” Westbrook said.
Irving said “instincts” led him to gamble on his steal of Westbrook.
“It’s winning time,” Irving said. “I feel like when the ball’s in my hand, I’ve just got to make the right play. Being down the stretch, just trying to make the right decisions.”
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