NBA wrap: Celtics topples Raptors for 12th straight win

Celtics and Rockets both extend winning streaks.

Boston Celtics' Al Horford hangs from the rim after dunking as Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) and Serge Ibaka (9) look on during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston.   -  AP

The Celtics earned its 12th straight win Sunday by defeating the Raptors 95-94 at TD Garden in Boston. 

Playing without star point guard Kyrie Irving, the Celtics worked its way back from a five-point halftime deficit. Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion, and he scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while also dishing out four assists.

The Celtics is no stranger to playing without key players. Gordon Hayward (out for the season), Jayson Tatum, Irving and Horford have all missed time, yet it remains atop the Eastern Conference standings.

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Marcus Smart started in place of Irving Monday, and he scored 14 points with nine assists and five rebounds. Backup point guard Terry Rozier added 16 points with six rebounds.

Boston has averaged just 102.2 points per game so far this season, which is third-worst in the East. But it has held teams to an NBA-best 94.0 points per game. If the Celtics can continue playing stifling defense, it could be tough to beat once the lineup is near full strength.

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Studs of the Night

Tobias Harris and and Avery Bradley led the Pistons to a 112-103 win over the Heat. Harris scored 25 points, making 5 of 8 attempts from 3-point range, while hauling in seven rebounds. Bradley added 24 points with six rebounds and two steals. Detroit has now won five straight games and eight of its last nine.

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Dud of the Night

Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews scored just one point on 0-for-9 shooting in a 112-99 loss to the Thunder. Dallas (2-12) has now lost eight of its last nine games, and Matthews is shooting under 33 percent this month.

Highlight

James Harden working the step-back jumper:

 

Harden scored 26 points with 15 assists to lead Houston to a 118-95 win over the Pacers. The Rockets has now won six straight games.

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