The Boston Celtics, with 32 points scored by Jayson Tatum, overcame the eye-catching Chicago Bulls on Monday and have the best record in the league (29 wins-12 losses) at the midpoint of the NBA season.
In addition to the show of their star, Grant Williams also scored 20 points, Jaylen Brown, 19 and Al Horford eight, including a crucial three-point shot less than thirty seconds from the end of the match, to give victory to his team (107 -99).
With 29 wins in 41 games, neither Brooklyn in the East nor Denver or Memphis in the West, which all have 27 wins and one game less, can join Boston at the top of the NBA regular season standings.
In the Western Conference, the Nuggets and the Grizzlies remain neck and neck, with their respective victory over the Los Angeles Lakers (122-109) and the San Antonio Spurs (121-113).
Finishing first in the NBA at mid-season has had nothing to do with Boston, recently swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder and who had to work to stand up to the Spurs in full reconstruction during a trip last Saturday.
Against Chicago, the Celtics got a real scare when they saw the 16-point gap they had widened in the third quarter, reduced to two small points in the last minutes thanks to the festival of Zach LaVine, the rear of the Bulls, author of 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter.
But Horford, served by Tatum, with a three-point shot restored a five-point lead with 25.5 seconds left, and Tatum himself crucified the Bulls with a two-handed dunk, embellished with a foul to secure Boston’s victory.
“It’s a difficult team,” said the 24-year-old winger of Chicago, with their modest record (19-22). “She is well coached. They play hard, they are tall and athletic. So it’s a big win,” said the All-Star.
In Memphis, the Grizzlies, again deprived of their star Ja Morant through injury, got rid of offensive Spurs.
In a fratricidal duel, Tyus Jones of the Grizzlies, 24 points, did better than his brother, Tre, of the Spurs, author of 18 points, and despite a comeback from San Antonio in the last quarter, Memphis managed to contain his opponent to bring his record to 27 wins for 13 defeats.
It’s the same record as the Nuggets, whose two-time MVP Nikola Jokic had his 11th triple-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists in their win over the Lakers.
– James with an ankle injury –
Jokic was helped by Jamal Murray, out all last season with a torn knee ligament, who scored 34 points, his best this season, taking the Nuggets’ home win streak to 11 .
LeBron James did not take part in the loss due to left ankle pain. The Lakers superstar and Anthony Davis, also injured, were joined on the bench by Patrick Beverley, shot in the hip, at halftime.
Russell Westbrook’s 25 points and Thomas Bryant’s 17, in addition to his 10 rebounds, were not enough for the Lakers to secure a sixth consecutive victory.
The Knicks’ four-game winning streak also ended in New York because Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated them (111-107).
Antetokounmpo had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a collective Bucks victory where seven players also had 10+ points.