NBA

NBA: Hawks stun Celtics, Rockets win again

By Sports Desk March 26, 2024

De'Andre Hunter scored 24 points, including a game-sealing 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left, and the Atlanta Hawks roared back from a 30-point deficit to hand the NBA-leading Boston Celtics a shocking 120-118 loss on Monday.

The Hawks trailed 68-38 with under 4 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter before Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanović and Dejounte Murray keyed an improbable second-half rally. Bogdanovic scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, while Murray recorded 11 of his 19 points after half-time and ended the night with 15 assists.

In a back-and-forth fourth quarter that saw seven lead changes, Bogdanovic buried a 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining to give Atlanta a 115-114 edge. Jaylen Brown scored on the ensuing possession to put Boston back ahead, but Murray drove the lane and scored with one minute to go for a 117–116 Hawks' lead.

After Brown misfired on a 3-point try, Hunter knocked down a 26-foot jumper with time winding down to secure Atlanta's second consecutive victory and end the Celtics' nine-game winning streak.

Jayson Tatum racked up 37 points and eight rebounds for Boston, with 23 of those points coming in the first half as the Celtics built a 74-56 advantage at the intermission.

Atlanta outscored the Celtics by a 34-22 margin in the third quarter to cut its deficit to 96-90 entering the fourth, then opened the final period on a 7-0 run to move ahead.

Brown finished with 24 points and Kristaps Porzingis totalled 17 for Boston.

Red-hot Rockets pull away from Blazers to win ninth straight

Jalen Green scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half to help the resurgent Houston Rockets extend their winning streak to nine games with a 110-92 victory over the downtrodden Portland Trail Blazers.

Houston's run is the franchise's longest sequence of consecutive wins since a nine-game streak from Feb. 23-March 11, 2019. The hot stretch has moved the Rockets, a team which has missed the play-offs in each of the last three seasons, within a half-game of the Golden State Warriors for the final spot in the Western Conference's play-in tournament.

The Rockets prevailed despite forward Jabari Smith serving a one-game suspension for fighting with Utah Jazz guard Kris Dunn on Saturday. Jock Landale made his first start of the season in Smith's place and contributed 17 points and nine rebounds.

Rebuilding Portland was dealt a seventh straight loss but did own a 64-55 lead after Scoot Henderson hit a 3-pointer with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter. The Rockets then reversed momentum by scoring 25 of the game's next 29 points and never trailed thereafter.

Green tallied 12 points during the game-changing run, which Aaron Holiday capped with a 3-pointer that gave the Rockets an 80-68 advantage near the end of the third quarter.

Dalano Banton led the Blazers with 28 points and 11 assists off the bench, while Henderson finished with 15 points. 

Siakam helps Pacers extend Clippers' slump

Pascal Siakam scored 31 points and the Indiana Pacers dominated the early stages of the fourth quarter to hand the struggling Los Angeles Clippers a 133-116 loss.

Indiana also received 24 points from Myles Turner and 21 from Tyrese Haliburton, who added nine assists to help the Pacers move to 6-1 over their last seven road games.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has now lost five straight at home and suffered its sixth defeat in its last nine overall outings despite Russell Westbrook's return from a 12-game absence caused by a broken hand.

Westbrook tallied 14 points and seven assists in just 18 minutes, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George each had 26 points for the Clippers.

Haliburton's 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half staked Indiana to a 65-62 lead at the break, and the Pacers later extended their margin to double digits before Leonard's jumper near the end of the third quarter brought the Clippers within 97-89 entering the fourth.

The Pacers were on fire during the final period, however, as they shot 68.2 per cent from the field for the quarter. Indiana began the fourth with eight straight points to take a 105-89 lead, and Siakam had the final five points of a 15-5 run later on that stretched the Pacers' advantage to 122-99 with six minutes to play.

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