Marcus Smart helps Boston escape with win over OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY — With most of their lead gone, the Boston Celtics needed someone to make a stop in the final seconds.
As usual, Marcus Smart took it upon himself.
Smart stole the ball from Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 5.8 seconds left, helping the Celtics hold on for a 112-111 victory over the Thunder on Sunday (Monday morning, February 10, 2020, Philippine time).
“I didn’t even want to give them an attempt to even get a shot up and a chance to tie the game or come close to it,” Smart said.
Kemba Walker scored 27 points and Jayson Tatum had 26 for the Celtics, who won their seventh straight.
“Good, tough teams,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “A lot of smart basketball and then we almost gave it away at the end. But, you know, up to that point I think we played really hard and really well.”
Jaylen Brown finished with 17 points for the Celtics, who made 16 3-pointers. One of them, by Smart with 8:19 remaining, gave Boston the lead for good.
Danilo Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander each had 24 points for the Thunder, while point guards Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder finished with 22 apiece. Oklahoma City had its four-game winning streak snapped.
“I thought our guys really, really competed and played,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “We weren’t able to finish well enough in some crucial situations.”
Oklahoma City led 61-52 at halftime but Tatum heated up in the third quarter. His 3-pointer made it 70-68 with 7:38 left in the period.
“I thought they were the aggressor in the last 14 minutes of the first half,” Stevens said. “And then we were great out of the gate in the second and then it went back and forth.”
Boston led 109-101 after Walker made his second straight 3-pointer, but Oklahoma City battled back and had a chance to tie after Schroder blocked Gordon Hayward’s layup. But Smart stripped Gilgeous-Alexander before he had a chance to take what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer.
“It took a lot of grit,” Tatum said. “They are a really good team. They are tough and they compete, so we just had to match their intensity.”
Paul hit a 3-pointer at the final buzzer, but Smart’s defense was enough to clinch the win.
“I saw an opportunity to make a play, and I made it,” Smart said.
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