BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum had a chance to all but ice Sunday’s game for the Boston Celtics, only to miss a free throw that left the door ajar for an Oklahoma City miracle.
But a turnover by Russell Westbrook moments later led to the ball being back in Tatum’s hands before being fouled.
Second time at the line proved to be the charm as Tatum knocked down both free throws to make it a two-possession game with 7.4 seconds to play.
That would indeed be the difference as the Celtics escaped with a 134-129 win.
Boston (34-19) has now won four in a row and nine of its last 10 games while snapping the Thunder’s seven-game winning streak.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s five-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kyrie Irving: He set the tone with a strong start offensively before finishing with a team-high 30 points, 20 of which came in the first half. He also added 11 assists which gave him a fourth-straight double-double, and his team-leading 14th overall.
Paul George: A year ago he was viewed as Russell Westbrook’s sidekick. Today, the roles have been reversed with Paul George playing at an uber-superstar level. He led all players with 37 points on 11-for-27 shooting from the field.
Marcus Smart: We have said for years that Marcus Smart’s impact often can’t be found in numbers. But his game is really starting to round into shape at both ends of the floor. In addition to his strong play defensively, Smart also had 18 points and seven assists to go with four rebounds.
Steven Adams: With no Aron Baynes (foot), Steven Adams didn’t have to deal with the multi-layer interior defense Boston likes to impose on teams with Al Horford and Baynes. Adams, who came in averaging a near double-double, tallied 16 points along with grabbing nine rebounds.
Russell Westbrook: The last man in the NBA to average a triple-double for a full season, Russell Westbrook was back in triple-double mode on Sunday. He would finish with 22 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.
Daniel Theis: With no Aron Baynes (foot), Theis was sure to play more minutes. And the 25-year-old did not disappoint, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting which included knocking down both of his 3-point attempts.
Free throw line: Boston continues to struggle to get to the line. Only the Orlando Magic (18.7) average fewer free throws than the Celtics (19.3) this season. And you can’t pin it on them taking too many 3’s, either. The Celtics actually took fewer 3-pointers (34) than the Thunder (35) and yet Oklahoma City had twice as many free throw attempts (34) as the Celtics (17).
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