The Boston Celtics prevailed 141-133 against the Los Angeles Clippers after double overtime prior to the NBA All-Star break, while the Oklahoma City Thunder also won.

In the final two games before the All-Star Weekend in Chicago, the Celtics and Thunder both celebrated victories on Thursday.

Jayson Tatum, who will play for Team Giannis in Sunday's All-Star Game, led the Celtics with a game-high 39 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers in Boston.

Trailing the Celtics 114-111, Clippers recruit Marcus Morris Sr. made a three-pointer with 46.8 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Clippers guard Landry Shamet then nailed a shot from beyond the arc to level proceedings at 127-apiece as double OT beckoned at TD Garden.

But led by Tatum, Gordon Hayward (21 points, 13 rebounds), Marcus Smart (31 points) and Kemba Walker (19 points), the Celtics finished strong to outscore the Clippers 14-6.

Lou Williams had 35 points for the Clippers, while Kawhi Leonard finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds on the road.

It was a tough night for the Clippers, who lost star Paul George to a strained left hamstring in the first half – the same injury that forced him to miss 10 games in January.

Meanwhile, the Thunder overcame Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans 123-118.

Williamson posted 32 points, but the Thunder still won courtesy of Danilo Gallinari's 29 points and Chris Paul's double-double of 14 points and 12 assists.

 

Trae Young almost single-handedly stunned the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Thursday, while the Los Angeles Clippers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Named an All-Star starter ahead of Ben Simmons, 21-year-old guard Young outshone his fellow Eastern Conference star as the Atlanta Hawks topped the 76ers 127-117.

Young had a double-double before the first quarter ended and finished with 39 points and a career-high 18 assists in the upset, while Simmons went 10-of-15 from the field for a team-high 31 points.

The Clippers set rivalries aside before their clash with the Sacramento Kings to honour Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven people killed in Sunday's helicopter crash.

Paul George narrated a moving video that was broadcast before 24 seconds of silence while Bryant's old Lakers jerseys, normally covered during Clippers games at Staples Center, were left visible.

Sacramento went on to win 124-103 as Kawhi Leonard, who was involved in the warm-up, failed to play a minute due to lower back tightness.

 

Tatum makes successful Celtics comeback

Jayson Tatum returned after three games out with a groin injury and celebrated his first All-Star nod in fitting fashion, contributing 20 points, six rebounds and two assists as the Boston Celtics topped the Golden State Warriors 119-104.

Nikola Jokic delivered 28 points and 10 assists to drag the injury hit Denver Nuggets to a 106-100 victory against the fast-finishing Utah Jazz, who were led by Jordan Clarkson's 37 points.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal proved a point to those who overlooked him for a place in the All-Star Game in Chicago, posting 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a 121-107 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Clippers cold after losing Kawhi

The Clippers did not officially rule two-time NBA champion Leonard out of their game against the Kings until midway through the contest.

His absence seemed to unnerve the rest of the team, who combined to shoot just 35-of-92 from the field.

 

Sweet slam a consolation for Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers were at least able to enjoy a monster Larry Nance Jr. dunk as they suffered a 115-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

 

Thursday's results

Toronto Raptors 115-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Washington Wizards 121-107 Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks 127-117 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 119-104 Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings 124-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Denver Nuggets 106-100 Utah Jazz

 

Trail Blazers at Lakers

Staples Center will be the scene for another emotional outpouring on Friday as the Lakers (36-10) hit the floor for the first time since Bryant's death. The Western Conference leaders take on Carmelo Anthony and the Portland Trail Blazers (21-27).

Devin Booker was the most notable omission as six first-timers won NBA All-Star selection among the 14 reserves named on Thursday.

Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook headlined the list of players selected by NBA coaches to round out the roster options for Team LeBron and Team Giannis.

Phoenix Suns guard Booker was denied a place despite averaging 27.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 44 games this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder veteran Paul, Houston Rockets star Westbrook, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz youngster Donovan Mitchell snatched Western Conference guard spots, the latter handed his maiden selection alongside team-mate and fellow first-timer Rudy Gobert.

Brandon Ingram, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis will also be among the newcomers at United Center in Chicago on February 16.

Suns general manager and three-time NBA champion James Jones questioned Booker's absence.

"I've played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star," Jones said in a statement.

Frenchman Gobert's inclusion alongside Sabonis (Lithuania), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Nikola Jokic (Serbia) plus starters Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) lifts the number of international players to eight, a record for an All-Star Game.

The 2020 edition will feature several format changes to honour Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Among them will be a 'target score' to chase in a timeless fourth quarter, the figure being the leading team's tally after three periods plus 24 points - representing the number Bryant wore during the second half of his glittering NBA career.

LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, the designated captains, will select their teams from the available player pool on February 6.

 

Eastern Conference reserves:

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)

Western Conference reserves:

Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Jaylen Brown says the Boston Celtics "have to get better" despite recording a fifth successive win on Friday with a 129-117 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Brown equalled his career-best points tally with 34 and added nine rebounds and two assists as he and Jayson Tatum (30 points) combined to keep Boston within reach of the table-topping Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers never recovered from a first period which they finished 11 points in arrears, although Brown was still demanding more afterwards ahead of Saturday's clash with reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors. 

The 23-year-old told reporters: "We definitely have to continue to have the right balance and make the right plays and the right reads, and continue to get better.

"We still have our best day in front of us as a team. We have to continue to strive and make it less about the opponent and more about us.

"We have to get better. We are looking to be a team playing defense into the postseason this year, so every game counts and every game is a chance to get better. Every game is an opportunity, and we have to make sure we seize it."

Brown has certainly seized his opportunities recently, his performance on Friday coming hot on the heels of a 30-point display against the Raptors on Christmas Day.

Asked if he was playing with increased confidence at the moment, he replied: "The same confidence that I always have. I’m just coming out there and trying to be aggressive and try to find ways to win, really."

Defeat left Cleveland with a 9-22 record and coach John Beilein casting envious eyes in counterpart Brad Stevens' direction.

Beilein said: "Every time I watch Boston, I'm very envious of what they have out there and remind myself they were much like us five years ago.

"They just have so many, four guys out there that are explosive, can score at any time."

Brooklyn faced adversity early against Houston on Friday night, but they rebounded to claim a 123-116 victory at Barclays Center.

The Nets fell into a hole early and trailed by as much as 15 in the first half before it found scoring from some surprising places.

Taurean Prince unexpectedly led the way offensively with a team-high 27 points for Brooklyn while Garrett Temple chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Brooklyn still called Kyrie Irving's number down the stretch and he sealed the game with a step-back dagger on a corner 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 points on the night.

James Harden continued his ridiculous run at the charity stripe, tallying 36 points and eight rebounds while sinking 14 free throws. But he struggled from deep and made only two of his 16 long-range shots.

Houston has made a name for itself by shooting a large number of threes, but shooting at a 25 percent clip against a Brooklyn team that converted 59.4 percent from downtown didn't help their chances.

The Rockets dropped to 3-2 in the western conference, while the Nets improved to 2-3 in season 2019-20.

Kemba makes himself at home in the Garden

Kemba Walker scored 33 points in the Celtics' 104-102 win over the Knicks at TD Garden.

Russell Westbrook totalled 27 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and four steals against Brooklyn.

Andre Drummond tallied 25 points and 24 rebounds as the Pistons fell to the Bulls 112-106.

Lopez and Garland wayward

Brook Lopez went 1-of-7 from the field and scored three points in the Bucks' 123-91 rout of the Magic.

Cleveland's Darius Garland missed all 10 of his shots and notched just two points in his team's 102-95 loss to the Pacers.

Tatum ices the game for the Celtics

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and nailed the decisive basket as the Celtics snuck past the Knicks.

 

 

76ers at Blazers

Philadelphia is undefeated but they face a talented Portland team without Joel Embiid who is serving a two-game suspension for a skirmish with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. How will the 76ers respond without their dominant post presence and defensive stud down low? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum certainly won't make things easy for the Eastern Conference powerhouse.

Gregg Popovich's United States team survived an almighty fright in the FIBA World Cup as they claimed a 93-92 overtime victory over Turkey in Shanghai.

Turkey had a chance to hand USA their first preliminary round loss in the competition since 1998 and were one point up in the final 10 seconds.

However, they missed four free throws in the dying embers and Khris Middleton made no mistake with his pair of tries to spare USA's blushes and send them into the second round.

Elsewhere, Joe Ingles' statline of 17-10-9 ensured Australia made it two wins from two in a 81-68 victory over Senegal while Middleton's Milwaukee Bucks team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo's fouled out in Greece's 79-78 loss to Brazil.

USA SURVIVE UPSET SCARE

Even a depleted USA roster was expected to have few issues in the early stages of the tournament, but Turkey came close to pulling off a huge upset against the defending champions.

Popovich's team were five points up in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, yet a 7-0 run from Turkey meant the game went down to the wire. 

A foul on Jayson Tatum at the buzzer gave him three free throws, and USA would have won in regulation had he made them all - but he could only drain two.

Turkey had a five-point advantage in the additional period and twice had an opportunity to go three points up with nine seconds remaining only for Douglas Balbay and Cedi Osman to fluff their lines from the free-throw line.

Middleton kept his cool as USA survived a scare on the court, though Boston Celtics star Tatum appeared to pick up a worrying looking ankle injury at the end.

GIANNIS' GREECE GO DOWN

The NBA's reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had a day to forget as Greece suffered a narrow loss to Brazil that mean the South Americans booked their spot in the second round.

Antetokounmpo had fouled out by the time Greece tried to tie the game up late on and force overtime, but Kostas Sloukas could only make two of his three free-throws with two seconds remaining as Brazil claimed a one-point success.

Former Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors center Anderson Varejao led all scorers with 22 points while Antetokounmpo had just 13 in his 28 minutes on court.

Elsewhere in Group F, New Zealand beat Montenegro 93-83.

INGLES COMES CLOSE TO HISTORY AS BOOMERS WIN AGAIN

There has never been a triple-double in a FIBA World Cup but Ingles came close to a slice of history as Australia eased past Senegal.

Ingles was one assist away from a triple-double, contributing nine of their 28 assists as the Boomers warmed up for their clash with Lithuania, who joined them in the second round with a 92-69 triumph.

In Group G, France also moved to 2-0 with a 103-64 thrashing of Jordan, while Dominican Republic kept their unbeaten start intact by beating Germany 70-68.

The day's other game saw Czech Republic defeat Japan 89-76.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell paced the offense as the United States launched their FIBA World Cup campaign on Sunday with an 88-67 win over the Czech Republic.

Mitchell scored 16 points to lead the USA, while Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes added 14. Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker got the team off to a fast start, combining for 20 points in the first half. Walker finished with 13 points and Tatum scored 10.

Myles Turner also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots for the US, who forced 15 turnovers.

Mitchell kept his dominating momentum down to the final minutes of the game in Shanghai.

For the Czechs, who played their first World Cup game since 1982, Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky led the team with 17 points.

The USA will play Turkey on Tuesday in Shanghai in a rematch of the 2010 World Championship final. The Czech Republic will face Japan on Tuesday.

Kemba Walker has already had an impact on his new Boston Celtics team-mates, who are thrilled to be playing alongside the point guard.

Walker joined the Celtics this offseason as a part of a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets in which Boston sent Terry Rozier the other way.

The 29-year-old signed a four-year, $140million deal with the Celtics and will be taking over the spot left vacant by Kyrie Irving, who went to the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

Playing alongside Walker next season will be established Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are thrilled to be welcoming the point guard to Boston.

"I'm just excited," Tatum said at a Team USA practice session in Las Vegas ahead of the FIBA World Cup.

"We've got a good team, it's a new season, everybody's kind of ready to just get going. Last year didn't finish how we wanted, so it makes guys hungry and excited for next season."

"We're going to be positive," Brown added. "Last year, I can't say it can be any worse than that, so coming out and being positive is everybody's mindset."

The Celtics were picked to win the Eastern Conference after going 55-27 in 2017-18, when they finished second in the East and lost in seven games in the conference finals to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Boston struggled last season, sliding to 49-33, finishing fourth in the East and losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Walker, meanwhile, missed the postseason for the sixth time in his eight-year spell at Charlotte, and though he made staying with the Hornets a priority in free agency, a deal could not be thrashed out.

He has always stated his love for the city of Charlotte and for his team-mates and the organisation, but it ultimately turned out it was time for him to move on.

However, Walker's loyalty is something that has endeared him to the Celtics squad, according to Marcus Smart.

"We talked a little bit about basketball, but mostly just getting to know each other," Smart said.

"Knowing things that we probably didn't know about one another and just laughing and joking and building that camaraderie up."

Walker echoed Smart's sentiments, but made it clear he still has a way to go before guaranteeing any titles in Boston's future.

"I'm the new guy, they already know each other, so it's just kind of really me and getting acclimated to them and how things go," Walker said.

Jayson Tatum believes he played a big role in the Boston Celtics landing Kemba Walker.

Walker agreed to leave the Charlotte Hornets and sign a four-year, $141million max contract with the Celtics this offseason.

Tatum said he spoke with Walker about the team while they were both in Paris for a Jordan Brand event.

"I'm very excited," Tatum said, via ESPN. "I think I had a big part with him coming here ... I never told him to come, but I told him I would love for him to join the team and told him how it was. Obviously, everybody has to do what's best for themselves, and I'm happy for him."

The Celtics entered last season as the favourites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the conference semi-finals.

They lost Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Al Horford (Philadelphia 76ers) and Marcus Morris (New York Knicks) in free agency but added center Enes Kanter, as well as Walker.

Gordon Hayward is also expected to take a step forward after he struggled last season following a devastating leg injury in 2017-18.

"I just told [Walker] about Boston, the city, the atmosphere, our fans, the culture, the coaching staff," Tatum said. "I answered all the questions he had. I'm excited, and just ready for the season to start and everybody to be around each other and build some chemistry and just get it going."

Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points, along with 5.9 assists, in 82 games for the Hornets last season. He shot 43.4 per cent from the field and 35.6 per cent from three-point range.

"I'm a winner. I've always been a winner," Walker wrote in a piece for the Players' Tribune last month. "It's who I am – or at least who I strive to be – anytime I step foot on the court. And when I think about my future with this team, and how I'm now going to be playing for the Celtics. I mean, that's why I feel like it's a match made in heaven.

"I want to win here, badly – and I'm excited to prove myself as that type of player in this league. I want to elevate myself into that Boston winning tradition. I want to get this team back on top."

Tatum had a standout rookie season but was inconsistent in 2018-19.

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum won the NBA Skills Challenge after nailing a half-court shot on All-Star weekend.

Tatum converted the stunning long-range attempt to beat Atlanta Hawks youngster Trae Young in Charlotte on Saturday.

With Young ahead of him and preparing to make a shot from beyond the arc, Tatum did not break stride as he nailed the sensational three-pointer.

"I'm just here trying to have fun. I threw it up and it went in," Tatum told TNT afterwards.

Tatum – who has been linked with a move away from the Celtics amid the team's reported interest in wantaway New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis – overcame Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley in the first round.

The 20-year-old forward then trumped Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets before pipping Young in the final.

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