x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Los Angeles Lakers extend lead

The Los Angeles Lakers came from behind three times in the final period to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-92.

LOS ANGELES // The Los Angeles Lakers came from behind three times in the final period to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-92 and take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference play-off series last night. Kobe Bryant scored 39 points, carrying the Lakers in the fourth quarter. He was 13 of 15 from the free throw line, but just 12 of 28 from the floor. Los Angeles' Pau Gasol had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Andrew Bynum had six points and 10 boards for the defending champions, who failed to sustain their strong start for the second straight game. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 19, making all eight of his free throws. Game 3 is Thursday in Oklahoma City. The Lakers are 39-1 all-time when winning first two games of a best-of-seven series. In Boston, the hosts did not miss Kevin Garnett at all, as Glen Davis filled in to lead them over Miami for a 2-0 series lead; Celtics 106, Heat 77. With Garnett serving a one-game suspension, Davis started and had 23 points and eight rebounds, going aggressively to the basket to grab missed shots and draw fouls. The Heat led 29-25 but the Celtics used a 44-8 surge over the next 16-and-a-half minutes to go ahead 69-37, capped by one of Ray Allen's five 3-pointers in the third quarter. Allen led the Celtics with 25 points, while Dwyane Wade scored 29 for the Heat. Game 3 is Friday in Miami. In Atlanta, Joe Johnson took control in the fourth quarter to finish off a 27-point effort as Atlanta ran away from outmanned Milwaukee, ending the game Hawks 96, Bucks 86. Josh Smith finished one assist shy of a triple-double for the Hawks, who will head to Milwaukee on Saturday with a 2-0 series lead. It's the first time they've won the first two in a best-of-seven series since 1970. Al Horford scored 20 points for Atlanta, snatching down 10 rebounds and blocking three shots. John Salmons scored 21 points for the Bucks, and Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench for 13 points and 15 rebounds. In Phoenix, the hosts rediscovered its high-energy style to beat Portland and square the series 1-1; Suns 119, Trail Blazers 90. Jason Richardson scored 29 points and Grant Hill made 10-of-11 shots for 20 for the Suns. Unlike Game 1, Steve Nash pushed the Suns to their preferred tempo from the start and finished with 13 points and 16 assists. Amare Stoudemire scored 18. None of the Suns' starters played in the fourth quarter. Martell Webster led the Blazers with 16 points. Andre Miller was limited to 12. Nicolas Batum also scored 12 before leaving with a right shoulder strain at the end of the third quarter. The series shifts to Portland for Game 3 on Thursday. * AP