Tatum led the Celtics to victory in Toronto
Jayson Tatum scored 17 of his 31 points in the third quarter on Monday and the Boston Celtics cemented their spot as the Eastern Conference leaders with a 116-110 victory over the tenacious Toronto Raptors.
Trailing 62-56 at halftime, Boston outscored the Raptors 35-18 in the third quarter and took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter.
In addition to Tatum’s 31 points and 12 rebounds, Boston franchise star Jaylen Brown scored 22 points in the seventh win in eight games despite the absence of injured Al Horford and ailing Malcolm Brogdon. .
Markus Smart, who was chosen as the defender of the year last season, scored 18 points, and Blake Griffin scored 13 points.
Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 29 points, Scottie Barnes and his 21 points, but the Raptors lost at home for the third time this season.
“Against a team that’s playing really well at home,” Tatum said, the Celtics decided to “find a solution” at halftime just 24 hours after a 103-92 victory in Brooklyn.
“We were just playing too slow. We were too busy with the officiating and we just wanted to change that,” said the 24-year-old winger.
“We got back on the court and started the third quarter with a different energy,” he said.
Tatum said it was the type of win the Celtics needed to return to the NBA Finals and claim the title that eluded them last season against Golden State.
– Antetokounmpo hard in Orlando –
“When you put your mind to it, you can beat anyone. “It’s a choice we have to make.”
Thus, the Celtics improved to the best record in the entire NBA with 25 wins to five losses.
Leading the Eastern Conference, they played two more games than the Milwaukee Bucks, who defeated the Orlando Magic (109-102) thanks to 34 points and 13 rebounds from two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In Orlando, the Bucks took a 54-45 lead into halftime and never trailed after the break, withstanding a late surge that saw the Magic cut the deficit to four points with 2:20 left.
Antetokounmpo’s free throw and layup widened the lead and the Bucks went on to win. Milwaukee made 13 3-pointers on 40 attempts and had 31 assists.
Los Angeles Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George returned from injury and made an immediate impact in a 119-117 win over the Hornets in Charlotte.
George, who has missed seven straight games with a hamstring injury, led the Clippers with 19 points and Leonard added 16 points, including the game-winning jumper with 1.4 seconds left.
“I felt good,” said Leonard, a two-time NBA champion (with the Spurs and Toronto), who missed the last six games with a sprained right ankle.
“My teammates trusted me. I was able to get the ball in my zone and shoot with confidence,” the two-time NBA champion detailed his award-winning shot.
– Warriors repeat –
It was only the fourth game of the season Leonard and George played together for the Clippers.
The Thunder rallied from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Hawks (121-114) in Atlanta.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points for Oklahoma City, and teammate Josh Giddey scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
“Golden State”, the defending champion in a small form, lost at home to the Indiana Pacers (112-104).
Rookie Andrew Nembhard was instrumental with 31 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, a performance praised by his coach Rick Carlisle.
Klay Thompson scored 28 points for the Warriors, while Stephen Curry was very clumsy, scoring just 12 points and making 3 of 17 shots.
Houston created a surprise by winning after two overtimes against Philadelphia (132-123).
The Sixers were hoping James Harden’s return from a 14-game foot injury would help turn things around after two road losses.
But the 33-year-old defenseman looked rusty, making just 4 of 19 shots for 21 points. His partner, Joel Embiid, was brilliant with just 39 points and 7 rebounds before being ejected in overtime.
Jalen Green 27 points for Houston, Kevin Porter Jr. He scored 24 points, but still remains second to last in the Western Conference.