WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Celtics held on for a gritty 121-118 NBA victory over reigning champions Golden State in Boston on Thursday.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown came alive late for the Celtics, whose eighth straight win -- this one against the team that bested them in last season’s NBA Finals -- pushed their league-leading record to 34-12.
Even as Tatum and Brown struggled to make shots early, the Celtics built a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter.
But the Warriors chipped away, and grabbed a 55-54 lead on Stephen Curry’s shot from the half-court logo at the halftime buzzer.
It looked like the Warriors, who dominated Boston in a December victory in San Francisco, had the Celtics’ number again as they pulled away to lead by as many as 11 in the third quarter.
They were up by nine early in the fourth, but Tatum’s running dunk pulled Boston within two with two minutes remaining. Al Horford came up with a three-pointer and a big block and Brown’s three-pointer tied it at 106-106 with 18.6 seconds left in regulation.
Marcus Smart’s opening basket of overtime gave the Celtics their first lead since the first half.
After a three-pointer from Curry put the Warriors up by one, Brown drove for a layup that put the Celtics back on top for good with 2:23 remaining.
They pushed the lead to as many as eight and survived a couple of miscues to seal the win.
Tatum, who scored 34 points with a career-high 19 rebounds, said the contest wasn’t about revenge, saying the Celtics didn’t buy into the “Finals rematch” hype that had them too tense in the teams’ December clash.
Brown, returning from a three-game absence because of groin tightness, finished with 16 points -- including 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime.