NBA: Celtics extend win steak, Thunder bounce back

By Sports Desk February 12, 2024

Jayson Tatum just missed a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and the Boston Celtics held off a late comeback attempt by the Miami Heat in Sunday's 110-106 victory that extended their winning streak to four games.

Kristaps Porzingis added 25 points and nine rebounds to help Boston defeat Miami for the third time in as many meetings this season. The Heat ousted the Celtics in seven games in last season's Eastern Conference finals.

Miami had a two-game winning streak snapped and was playing without leading scorer Jimmy Butler, who is away from the team due to the death of a family member. The Heat also lost starting guard Terry Rozier to a knee injury in the third quarter.

Porzingis had 16 first-half points as Boston took a 59-50 lead into the break, and the Celtics were up by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and owned a seemingly comfortable 94-82 advantage with 9 1/2 minutes left to play.

The Heat then went on a 10-2 run to get back in it, however, and later cut their deficit to two when Tyler Herro drilled a 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining that trimmed Boston's lead to 106-104.

Miami came up empty on its next two possessions, though, and Porzingis and Tatum combined to go 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the late stages to put the game away.

Herro scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the Heat, who also received 22 points and 13 rebounds from Bam Adebayo.


Gilgeous-Alexander, Williams carry Thunder past Kings

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 38 points and Jalen Williams chipped in 32 as the Oklahoma City Thunder got back on track with a 127-113 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Both players had hot shooting performances to help the Thunder bounce back from consecutive road losses to Utah and Dallas and move a half-game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves for first place in the Western Conference.  Gilgeous-Alexander finished 15 of 26 from the field while adding seven assists, while Williams was 13 of 20 to go along with nine rebounds.

The duo also recorded 19 first-half points each, with Williams producing eight during a 12-0 run that turned a tied game into a 41-29 Oklahoma City lead four minutes into the second quarter.

Oklahoma City took a 67-57 advantage into half-time before pulling away further in the third quarter, building a lead as large as 24 points.

Sacramento's Domantas Sabonis recorded 21 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists for his 17th triple-double of the season, two more than Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić for the NBA lead. 

Malik Monk had 26 points off the bench for the Kings, who have now lost three of their last four games. De'Aaron Fox finished with 15 points but was held to 6-of-17 shooting.


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    San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama became the first rookie to be voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team when the league unveiled the voting on Tuesday.

    Wembanyama received 98 of a possible 99 first-team votes to add to an impressive list of accolades after his first NBA season.

    Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, was the only unanimous first-team selection.

    Gobert and Wembanyama were joined on the first team by the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Herb Jones.

    Gobert was voted All-Defence for the seventh time in his career, all on the first team.

    Adebayo, long considered a top-tier defender, was selected to the first team for the first time in his career. Even the veterans, however, were appreciative of Wembanyama’s rookie campaign.

    “Coming into this league, obviously he had high expectations because he's 7-3 and shooting step-back 3s. I think a lot of people paid attention more to that than what he actually did on the defensive end,” Adebayo said of Wembanyama. “So, for him to get first team, first come around, it's obviously a great accolade for him.”

    Wembanyama led the league with 3.58 blocked shots per game, over a block more per game than any other player. The towering Frenchman was also eighth in the league at 10.6 rebounds per game and ranked in the top 25 with 1.24 steals per game.

    This was the first season of position-less voting for the All-Defence teams, leading to a strong preference for interior defenders, but perimeter players were well-represented on the second team.

    The Chicago Bulls’ Alex Caruso, the Orlando Magic’s Jalen Suggs, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels and Boston Celtics backcourt mates Jrue Holiday and Derrick White were voted to the All-Defensive second team.

    The league will announce its three All-NBA teams on Wednesday.



  • NBA All-Rookie team headlined by Wembanyama, Holmgren NBA All-Rookie team headlined by Wembanyama, Holmgren

    San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama was unanimously selected to the NBA's All-Rookie first team.

    The NBA revealed its All-Rookie teams on Monday, and Wembanyama's inclusion was hardly a surprise, considering he was unanimously named the league's Rooke of the Year two weeks ago.

    Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holgmren, who finished second to Wembanyama in rookie of the year voting, was also a unanimous selection to the NBA's All-rookie first team, appearing on all 99 ballots.

    Joining Wembanyama and Holmgren on the first team are Charlotte Hornets guard-forward Brandon Miller, Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski.

    Jaquez, who also appeared on all 99 ballots, finished fourth in All-rookie team voting with Miller finishing third and Podziemski in fifth. 

    The NBA All-Rookie second team includes Derek Lively II of the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets' Amen Thompson, the Memphis Grizzlies' GG Jackson II, the Thunder's Cason Wallace and Keyonte George of the Utah Jazz.

    Wembanyama, who became the first player to unanimously win NBA Rookie of the Year honours since Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015-16, averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and a league-leading 3.6 blocks in 71 games in 2023-24.

    After finishing second to Minnesota's Rudy Gobert in voting for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award two weeks ago, Wembanyama seems like a lock to be named to this season's All-Defensive team, which will be revealed Tuesday.

    If he is named to either the All-Defensive team or All-NBA team, which is announced Wednesday, he'll be the first rookie to do so since fellow Spurs star Tim Duncan in 1998.

  • 'It's a failure, not fatal' - Malone rallies Nuggets after Wolves defeat 'It's a failure, not fatal' - Malone rallies Nuggets after Wolves defeat

    Michael Malone reflects on a hard end to the season after the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled off a historic comeback to beat the Denver Nuggets.

    The Nuggets let a 20-point lead slip in the third quarter at home to lose 98-90 in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals as the Timberwolves denied them a chance at a second straight league title.

    Minnesota trailed 53-38 at half-time – the largest deficit a Game 7 winner has overcome in NBA post-season history.

    Asked what went wrong in the second half, Malone did not have too many answers.

    "That's what's hard," Malone said. "F*** being up 20. Season's over. It's hard."

    "This is just a momentary delay. It's a failure, it's not fatal. We'll be back.

    "The better team won, so I'm taking nothing away from Minnesota ... but mentally, emotionally, physically, I think guys are gassed. They're dead tired.

    "They gave me everything I could ever ask for, and that's why as much as this hurts, I'll walk out of this building tonight with my head held very high."

    Denver dropped the first two games of the series at home but won the next three to get themselves back on track to challenge for a repeat NBA title.

    Jamal Murray scored 35 points for the Nuggets, while Nikola Jokic added 34, but the former thinks the team were just lacking an edge at the end of the game.

    "Just mentally and physically, conjuring up the energy to fight like you're being hunted," Murray said. "I think that's the emotion.

    "When you're the hunter, you have so much more motivation and you grasp on to anything to prove everybody wrong and you have a constant chip on your shoulder.

    "I don't know. I feel like we should have won tonight. That's the tough part. They beat us, but we had so many great opportunities, including myself, so it's just tough, man."

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