LOS ANGELES: The Boston Celtics notched a satisfying win in Detroit on Sunday (Monday in Manila), handing the slumping Pistons their sixth straight NBA defeat just two weeks after losing to them in Boston.
Al Horford led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Kyrie Irving added 16 points and Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown scored 12 apiece for the Celtics, who held the Pistons to season lows in points scored and field goal percentage in the 91-81 triumph.
“I wouldn’t call it payback,” star point guard Irving said. “It’s just always good when you can respond the way you want to, especially on their home floor, just like they did on our home floor.”
It was also good to get a win, Irving said, after a tough three-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
“We were locked in,” said Aron Baynes, who pulled down 13 rebounds for Boston and was primarily responsible for holding Detroit center Andre Drummond to a season-low six points.
The Eastern Conference-leading Celtics did have some offensive struggles of their own. They were up by 16 in the fourth quarter when they hit a dry spell and the Pistons closed to within four.
But Boston scored on four of their next six possessions to rebuild their lead.
“Our offense wasn’t as crisp tonight as we wanted it to be but defensively we had a game plan and we stuck with it,” Baynes said.
Oladipo on fire
In Indianapolis, Victor Oladipo poured in a career-high 47 points to lead the Pacers to a 126-116 overtime triumph over the Denver Nuggets.
His electrifying performance had chants of “M-V-P” ringing around Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but Oladipo isn’t the kind of player to let the admiration go to his head.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “I’m trying to be great. There’s no in between, and I can’t settle for anything less.”
The Pacers scored the last eight points in regulation to tie it. Oladipo’s driving layup sliced the deficit to 114-112 with 55 seconds remaining.
After an Oladipo miss, Thaddeus made the put-back basket to tie it at 114-114 with 5.5 seconds left. Denver’s Will Barton had a chance to win it but missed at the buzzer.
The Pacers dominated overtime 12-2 — Oladipo delivering six points in the extra period.
“The biggest thing in the overtime is we got stops,” Oladipo said after the Pacers won their fourth straight. “That’s what won the game.”
The Toronto Raptors posted their sixth straight win with a 102-87 victory over the Kings in Sacramento.
The Raptors now boast the third-best record in the East, but coach Dwane Casey saw plenty of room for improvement after his team squandered an early 15-point lead before taking control for good in the third period.
“Consistency is something we’re fighting for,” Casey said. “We’re trying to scratch at it.”
Maybe so, but the Raptors are averaging 117 points per game during their winning streak, and have scored more than 100 in 12 straight.
“I don’t think our coach is ever happy,” guard Kyle Lowry quipped. “But the thing about our coach is that he’s always hard on us. He wants us to be a championship-caliber team.”
In New Orleans, the Pelicans used an 18-4 fourth-quarter scoring run to rally past the Philadelphia 76ers 131-124.
The Pelicans had led by 11 at halftime, but the 76ers roared back with a 40-point third quarter and the visitors were up 103-96 with less than 10 minutes to play.
Jrue Holiday made three three-pointers in the Pelicans’ decisive run, finishing with 34 points.
The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Dallas Mavericks for the third time this season, hanging on for a 97-92 win in Minneapolis.
Center Karl-Anthony Towns scored 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who consolidated their fourth place in the West.