LOS ANGELES, United States, Feb 4 – Al Horford rattled in a fadeaway jumper as the buzzer sounded to lift the Boston Celtics to a 97-96 NBA win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
“It’s a shot I work on a lot and it felt good when it left my hands,” Horford said.
Horford, Semi Ojeleye and Jayson Tatum scored consecutive three-pointers late in the fourth quarter as the Celtics took the lead with an 11-0 scoring run after trailing 85-79.
Horford said teammate Jaylen Brown was supposed to take the last shot but he was covered.
“That shot epitomizes the work he puts in,” Brown said. “He embraces those opportunities and steps up to the challenge.”
Horford finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, who won their fourth game in a row. Tatum had 17 points and Brown scored 16 for the Celtics in front of a crowd of 18,600 at the Boston Garden arena.
Terry Rozier, starting in place of injured guard Kyrie Irving, had 11 points on five-of-18 shooting.
Damian Lillard scored the final eight points for the Blazers, including a three-point play with seven seconds left to give them the lead 96-95.
Lillard finished with 21 points shooting six-of-19 from the field. C.J. McCollum led the Blazers with 22 points.
“They executed well down the stretch, made some tough shots,” McCollum said. “Credit them for battling back and then down the stretch they seemed to match every basket.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said they were going to celebrate the win by watching the New England Patriots battle the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52.
“Wanted to end the game so we could go watch the Super Bowl,” Stevens said.
Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Bucks breezed past the Brooklyn Nets 109-94 despite missing star Giannis Antetokounmpo who left the game in the final quarter with a sore right ankle.
Eric Bledsoe scored 28 points, John Henson had 19 points and 18 rebounds for the Bucks who stretched their winning streak over the Nets to 10 games.
– Antetokounmpo scare –
Milwaukee led by as many as 28 points at one stage and were in control when Antetokounmpo twisted his ankle and headed to the bench. He finished with 16 points.
Antetokounmpo said the injury was not a serious one and he wanted to come back in the game but the coaching staff wouldn’t allow it.
“I knew that if the game was close I would definitely be back in,” the All-Star forward said.
Khris Middleton also had 16 points for the Bucks, who improved to 6-1 since firing coach Jason Kidd.
DeMarre Carroll and Caris LeVert each scored 15 for the Nets, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
In Toronto, Delon Wright had 15 points off the bench as the Toronto Raptors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 101-86.
The Raptors have won five straight at home against the Grizzlies. Toronto improved to a league-best 21-4 on home court this season and 7-3 in its past 10 games.
Grizzlies started their NBA life out as the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies where they played for six seasons. In 2001 they moved to Memphis, leaving the Raptors as the lone Canadian team in the league.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points and Andrew Harrison had 16 for the Grizzlies, who have lost six straight on the road.
In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook scored 36 points but the mistake-prone Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t overcome some untimely turnovers in a 108-104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Thunder have now lost four straight after going on an eight-game win streak in January.