LOS ANGELES: Jayson Tatum’s 41 points and Boston’s 25 three-pointers propelled the league-leading Celtics to a 40th win of the NBA season on Friday, 127-116 over the Charlotte Hornets.
Tatum posted his eighth 40-point game of the season. But with Jaylen Brown sidelined by a facial fracture and Al Horford out with a sore knee he didn’t have to carry the offensive load alone.
Derrick White scored a career-high 33 points and handed out 10 assists. His output included eight of the Celtics’ 25 three-pointers, which came on 55 attempts.
“Shot was feeling good,” White said. “I was getting some good looks and just letting it fly.”
Less than a minute into the contest Sam Hauser and White drilled back-to-back three-pointers and the Celtics cruised from there.
They had a franchise-record 16 three-pointers in the first half, and even when the Hornets put together a 15-0 scoring run in the third quarter the Celtics’ lead remained in double digits.
Tatum drained five from beyond the arc, and became the first NBA player to make 1,000 three-pointers before his 25th birthday.
“He’s locked in,” White said of his 24-year-old teammate. “He took his game to another level this season. It’s been fun to see, fun to play with. He just makes the right play every time down.”
Things were much closer in Miami, where Jimmy Butler jammed home the game-winner with three-tenths of a second remaining in the Heat’s 97-95 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Tyler Herro led the Heat with 31 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, Bam Adebayo added 20 points and Butler scored 16 — but the Heat looked in danger of losing to the league-worst Rockets when they trailed by five with 3:40 remaining.
Two free throws from Butler trimmed the deficit and the Heat led 93-91 after an Adebayo steal and Herro three-pointer. The Rockets, however, kept responding. Houston guard Jalen Green’s driving layup with seven-tenths of a second left knotted the score at 95-95, but on Miami’s ensuing inbounds Gabe Vincent found Butler for the alley-oop dunk.
It went to double-overtime in Detroit, where the Pistons edged the San Antonio Spurs 138-131.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 32 points and Jalen Duren added 30 and 17 rebounds for the Pistons.
Elsewhere, Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler scored 23 points apiece to help the Utah Jazz erase a 12-point deficit with 4:53 remaining in a 122-116 victory over the Raptors in Toronto.
Collin Sexton added 22 points for the Jazz, who ended a three-game losing streak.
Pascal Siakam scored 35 points for Toronto, but the Raptors couldn’t hold off Utah’s late surge. Markkanen’s three-point play put Utah up 115-114 with 2:07 remaining and they pulled away for the win.
The Philadelphia 76ers avenged a humbling Sunday defeat in New York City with a 119-108 home triumph over the Knicks.
Philadelphia’s star center Joel Embiid scored 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Tyrese Maxey added 27 points off the bench as the Sixers rallied from 13 down to win.
Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson scored 30 points apiece for the Knicks, Brunson pouring in 20 in the first quarter alone.
But the 76ers turned the tide in the third quarter and trailed by just one going into the final period, when they out-scored the Knicks 27-15.
In Memphis, Ja Morant scored 32 points with nine rebounds and nine assists and Desmond Bane added 20 in the Grizzlies’ comfortable 128-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Phoenix downed Indiana 117-104, fueled by 22 points and 11 rebounds from Deandre Ayton and 21 points from Devin Booker.