NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Avery Bradley hit three straight 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 18 points in a game-deciding third quarter as the surging Boston Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets 94-82 Saturday night.
Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Celtics, who have won 10 of 13, and 20 of 28 to take over first place in the Atlantic Division.
Rajon Rondo added 15 assists, Brandon Bass had 18 points and Paul Pierce 17 for Boston, which limited New Jersey to 34 second-half points in beating the Nets for the third time in three games this season.
Gerald Green had 15 points to lead New Jersey, while rookie Jordan Williams had 12 points and career-best 14 rebounds in recording his first double-double.
Deron Williams had 12 points and 14 assists for the Nets, who had won six of their last nine in their best run of the season. MarShon Brooks added 13 points.
New Jersey was in position to add another win after tying the game at 48-all on a buzzer beater by Green at halftime.
The second half, however, was all Boston, much to the delight of the many green-clad fans in the sellout crowd of 18,711.
The third quarter decided the game with the Celtics outscoring New Jersey 26-13. Bradley was the catalyst in a late 13-4 spurt in which he hit three straight 3s from the right corner, inches from the Nets’ bench.
New Jersey made 6 of 25 shots in the third quarter and didn’t do much better in the fourth, scoring one basket in the opening 4 minutes as the Celtics led by 17 points.
THUNDER 115, TIMBERWOLVES 110
MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Durant scored 43 points and Russell Westbrook had 35 and eight assists to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder atop the Western Conference with a 115-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Durant scored 16 in the final seven minutes for the Thunder (44-16), who started the day one game ahead of the Spurs — but tied in the loss column — for the top seed in the West.
Anthony Randolph had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Michael Beasley scored 26 for the Timberwolves, who lost their ninth straight game and 25th in a row in April dating to 2009.
The Wolves were without All-Star Kevin Love, who missed his second straight game with a concussion. J.J. Barea had 24 points and 10 assists, but Minnesota missed 12 free throws.
Barea’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 112-110 with 13.8 seconds to play, but Westbrook iced the game at the line, where the Thunder hit 28 of 32 shots.
Serge Ibaka had eight points, 12 rebounds and five blocks and James Harden returned from a one-game absence because of a sore right knee. He scored six on 1-for-11 shooting.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the game that Oklahoma City would like to lock down home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, but they weren’t “focused on it.” He’s more concerned with the team staying healthy and playing the right way heading into the postseason. After a three-game losing streak earlier this month, the Thunder have won four of their last five games.
The Wolves gave the Thunder all they could handle in their first two meetings, losing 104-100 in the season opener and 149-140 in an epic double overtime game in Oklahoma City on March 23. But they had Love in both of those games and weren’t expected to give the mighty Thunder much trouble on Saturday night playing without Love, Ricky Rubio (knee) and Luke Ridnour (ankle).
The Thunder appeared to be taking control with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, but Beasley and Randolph kept the plucky Wolves in the game and Barea looked more like the annoying pest who helped the Mavericks win the title last season.
Randolph converted a three-point play and knocked down a jumper, Malcolm Lee had a three-point play and Beasley hit a 15-footer to cut the lead to 91-90 with 10 minutes to play.
Durant simply had an answer for every Wolves push. He blew by Anthony Tolliver for a dunk, knocked down a silky jump shot from the wing, scored on a back-down in the post and drove past Randolph for another bucket and a 105-97 lead with just under 4 minutes to go.
He even came up big on defense, forcing a traveling violation by Randolph and poking the ball away to create a fast-break bucket for Westbrook to hold the Wolves off.
Westbrook was 12 of 25 from the floor, and he’s received some criticism for the amount of shots he takes and not being more of a playmaking point guard that keeps his teammates, particularly Durant, more involved. Wolves coach Rick Adelman scoffed at that notion before the game, saying “everybody doesn’t have to be John Stockton.”
“If they’re really down on him, he can come over here,” Adelman deadpanned.