Celtics outlast Blazers, hurt Portland’s playoff hopes

DEVIN BOOKER’S 30 points helped the Phoenix Suns come back from a 15-point deficit and stun the playoff-bound Dallas Mavericks 117-115 on Sunday night at the VISA Athletic Center near Orlando.

The Suns (28-39) moved to within four games of the eighth playoff spot. Cameron Johnson added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio tallied 20 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix, which is 2-0 in the NBA restart.

The Mavericks still managed to clinch a playoff spot with the current eighth-seed Memphis Grizzlies’ loss earlier in the day, but Dallas (40-29) lost its second straight game in Florida.

Booker, an All-Star this season, fouled out with 1:26 to play, and a driving layup from Doncic with 39.9 seconds to play cut what was a nine-point Suns lead to 117-115.

Kristaps Porzingis missed a potential go-ahead trey with four seconds left, but the Mavericks got one more chance. They couldn’t get a shot off before the final buzzer, however.

Doncic led Dallas with 40 points and 11 assists, with Porzingis adding 30 points and eight rebounds.

The Suns trailed for most of the first half but tied the game at 82 on Frank Kaminsky’s tip-in with 5:09 to go in the third quarter. They took their first lead since the first quarter moments later on a pair of Kaminsky free throws.

Phoenix dominated the third quarter, using a 26-9 run to take a 96-90 lead with 1:14 to play. Cameron Payne hit back-to-back 3s and the Suns outscored Dallas 36-19 in the quarter.

The Mavericks trailed early but held a 12-point lead, their largest of the quarter, at 35-23 after Boban Marjanovic’s tip-in of a missed layup with 26.9 seconds to play.

Dallas took a 73-60 lead into halftime. Doncic had 23 points at the break and Booker had 19.

CELTICS OUTLAST BLAZERS
Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 34 points and Jaylen Brown added 30, leading the Boston Celtics to a 128-124 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in an NBA restart game on Sunday at The Arena near Orlando.

Brown scored 22 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 32.3 seconds left that stretched Boston’s lead to 125-119, sinking Portland.

Gordon Hayward added 22 points for Boston, going 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. He had six of his points in the final two minutes, making his only field goal try and going 4-for-4 at the foul line.

Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 30 points each. Lillard, who added a season-high and game-high 16 assists, scored 22 of his points after halftime. Nurkic added a game-high nine rebounds.

The Blazers also got 21 points from reserve Gary Trent and 17 from CJ McCollum. Trent made 7 of 11 of his 3-pointers as the Blazers rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit, taking a fourth-quarter lead.

Still, it wasn’t enough to prevent a potentially devastating loss for the Blazers, who are chasing the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Portland (30-38) now trails the Grizzlies (32-24) by three games. The Celtics (44-22), meanwhile, are two games up on Miami (42-24) in third place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto (47-18) is 3 1/2 games head of the Celtics for second.

Boston, smaller but quicker than Portland’s starting lineup, led 37-24 at the end of the first quarter. Boston shot 60 percent from the floor in the first quarter, including 63.6 percent on 3-pointers (7 of 11).

The Celtics led by as many as 24 points in the second quarter before settling for a 67-48 advantage at the break.

For the half, Boston shot 56.1 percent from the floor, including 61.1 percent on 3-pointers (11-for-18). Portland shot just 39.1% from the floor and hit just 6 of 19 from beyond the arc (31.6%).

Portland, led by 11 points each from Lillard and Nurkic, stormed back in the third quarter, trimming the Celtics’ lead to 94-86 entering the fourth.

The Blazers took their first lead of the second half on a McCollum 3-pointer that put Portland up 101-98 with 9:13 left in the fourth. But the Celtics fought back, with the game seeing four more ties and five lead changes before the final buzzer.

But Portland trailed by three points with three seconds left following Hayward’s final two free throws when Nurkic turned the ball over while attempting a long in-bounds pass.

A free throw by Tatum then iced the game. — Reuters