Celtics roll over ‘Wolves, Blazers surprise Spurs
Al Horford delivered 20 points and nine rebounds as the Boston Celtics continued their domination over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 117-104 win on Wednesday.
Boston won its 10th game in the last 11 thanks to a 21-6 run bridging the halves, a complete game by Horford and a stellar Isaiah Thomas performance.
Horford just missed his second career triple double as he also had eight assists.
“We needed (Horford) to be locked in tonight because (Karl-Anthony) Towns is a real talented guy. So Al had that assignment on the other end for a lot of the game,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
It marked the 11th consecutive win for the Celtics over Minnesota at the Boston Garden arena.
Thomas scored 27 points, Avery Bradley had 18, and Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart both scored 10 off the Boston bench. Olynyk added six rebounds.
“The guys were finding me a lot in the pick-and-roll action, and I was able to make plays,” said Horford, who has 47 points, 21 rebounds and 16 assists in the past three games.
“That’s how I like to play, and I felt they really played through me a lot.”
Ricky Rubio led the Timberwolves with 23 points and seven assists. Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad each scored 21 points and Towns finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota.
Elsewhere, Damian Lillard scored 36 points, including four free throws in the final five seconds, as the Portland Trail Blazers stunned the San Antonio Spurs 110-106.
CJ McCollum added 26 points for the Trail Blazers. Nurkic had 16 points and nine rebounds, Noah Vonieh scored 12 points and Allen Crabbe scored 10.
Portland was able to bounce back from a one-sided 100-77 loss to New Orleans on Tuesday.
“Look, we laid an egg (in New Orleans) – it was our worst loss of the year. And then, tonight, we have our best win of the year,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
“It was one of our better games as far as staying focused and withstanding some of San Antonio’s runs. I’ve always been proud of the way our guys bounce back.”
Kawhi Leonard finished with 34 points, nine rebounds and six assists for San Antonio. LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the previous two games because of a heart arrhythmia, had 19 points for San Antonio.
– Bench strength –
In Houston, Lou Williams scored 30 points off the bench against his former team and James Harden recorded his 17th triple-double on the season as the Houston Rockets crushed the hapless Los Angeles Lakers 139-100.
Williams, acquired at the trade deadline, hit his first seven shots and finished 11 of 17 over 26 minutes. Harden delivered an uneven performance, posting 18 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists and nine turnovers.
Despite surrendering 32 points off 21 turnovers, the Rockets were never seriously threatened after establishing their lead.
Lakers coach Luke Walton said his players need to stop blaming each other.
“We need to figure out as a group, not individually, but as a group how to handle adversity and how to react when things get tough,” Walton said.
“We do a lot of blaming other people and we need to look at ourselves and control what we can control.
“Until we do, unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of frustrating nights like tonight.”
In Los Angeles, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 points apiece, and Milwaukee ended an eight-game losing skid at Staples Center with a 97-96 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Blake Griffin finished with 18 points for the Clippers, but flubbed a potential game-winning shot from in close at the buzzer.