Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Thunder 127, Celtics 123: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drops 36 to hold off Boston's late rally

The Celtics nearly pulled off an 18-point comeback in their 127-123 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night at Paycom Center.

Kristaps Porzingis finished with 34 points on 12-of-18 from the field and 10 rebounds, while Jayson Tatum recorded 30 points (10-of-21), 13 rebounds and eight assists to lead Boston, who dropped to 26-7 on the season.

Derrick White continued his hot shooting of 7-of-12 to score 19 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists, but Jaylen Brown struggled on 4-of-18, including not hitting a 3-pointer on eight attempts to net only 15 points -- as the C's got their six-game win streak snapped.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a game-high 36 points on 14-of-22 from the floor and seven assists, while Josh Giddey registered 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Jalen Williams scored 16 points and rookie Chet Holmgren chipped in 14 points, seven assists for the Thunder -- who improved to 23-9 and have won five straight.

The Celtics led 61-58 at halftime, their largest margin of the night, behind 18 points from Porzingis. Oklahoma City used a 18-8 run to start the third quarter, while Giddey dropped 16 points in the period, before the Thunder took a 98-86 advantage into the final frame.

OKC went on a quick 10-4 spurt on a Jalen Williams' fast break dunk to open the fourth and grab their largest lead (108-90) with 8:25 left to play.

Boston responded with a rally of their own, outscoring the home team 21-15 to trail only 123-121 with 15.2 seconds remaining following a pair of made free throws by Porzingis.

Giddey was fouled on the ensuing play and hit two from the free throw line, before Porzingis knocked down what was ruled a corner two-pointer due to his foot being on the line after it was reviewed and the C's trailed 125-123 with 3.1 ticks left on the clock.

Gilgeous-Alexander put the game away with two more made free throws while chants of "M-V-P!" rained from the crowd.
"I thought it was two great teams," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "The game went about how I thought it would go as far as it coming down to the last couple of possessions."
The Celtics return home Friday night to host the Utah Jazz (15-19) at TD Garden in a 7:00 pm ET tip-off. 

Game Notes:

Boston was 45.7% from the field, including 15-of-40 (37.5%) from 3-point range, while the Thunder hit 52.7% from the floor and 18-of-40 (45%) from long distance. The Celtics won the rebound battle 47-38 but were outscored in the paint 50-46. Oklahoma City dished out 34 assists (12 turnovers) on 48 baskets to the C's 33 dimes (14 turnovers) on 42 made shots. Both teams finished with 10 blocks respectively.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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