x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sweet 16 for Celtics comes after close call

Joe Johnson misses a potential game-tying free throw with 2.7 seconds left as the Boston Celtics escape with their 16th consecutive win.

Boston Celtics' Kendrick Perkins, centre, shoots under the basket as Atlanta Hawks forwards Josh Smith, left, and Al Horford try and defend.
Boston Celtics' Kendrick Perkins, centre, shoots under the basket as Atlanta Hawks forwards Josh Smith, left, and Al Horford try and defend.

Joe Johnson missed a potential game-tying free throw with 2.7 seconds left as the Boston Celtics escaped with their 16th consecutive win, a 88-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Rajon Rondo made one of two free throws on the previous possession for the Celtics, who then allowed Johnson to drive into the paint before Kendrick Perkins sent him to the line.

Johnson made the first, but back-rimmed the second before Boston rebounded and called timeout. The strategy worked when they were able to inbound to sharp-shooting Ray Allen, who made two free throws with seven-tenths of a second left to provide the final margin. In a re-match of last year's seven-game, Western Conference semi-final, the New Orleans Hornets used a 13-0 run in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to propel them to a 90-83 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

After the Spurs opened up a seven-point advantage with five minutes to play, David West grabbed a pair of three-point buckets to pull New Orleans to within one, and they never looked back after that. Dirk Nowitzki, the league's leading scorer this month, registered 27 points and 10 boards to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a come-from-behind 96-86 victory over the Toronto Raptors. The Mavericks overcame a sluggish start, falling behind by 12 after the first quarter. But they owned every period thereafter and Nowitzki found his range as Dallas won for the seventh time in nine games.

LeBron James scored 13 points in the first four-and-a-half minutes as the Cleveland Cavaliers toppled the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-70. The Chicago Bulls got a four-point play from Ben Gordon to force overtime and took control in the extra session to down the Los Angeles Clippers 115-109. Luol Deng hit a jumper off a broken play with 1:09 left in overtime to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead. Zach Randolph then charged into Andres Nocioni, giving the ball back to the Bulls with 51 seconds left. Derrick Rose then took the ball to the hole and dropped in a pretty lay-up and was fouled to seal the win.

After managing just seven points in the first quarter, the Utah Jazz stormed back to stun the New Jersey Nets 103-92. The Nets led by as many as 22 points, but Utah gradually whittled away at the deficit, while Louis Williams scored 25 points off the bench as the Philadelphia 76ers posted a 93-88 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, despite an injury to star forward Elton Brand.

Andre Miller scored 19 points for the 76ers, who lost Brand to a dislocated right shoulder midway through the third quarter. Allen Iverson and Rodney Stuckey teamed up for 38 points to lead the Detroit Pistons to an 88-74 victory against the Washington Wizards, while the Indiana Pacers out-lasted the Golden State Warriors 127-120 in a hard fought display. * Agencies