NBA-best Celtics hold off Warriors late to win 10th straight
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Yet another Golden State starter went down with an injury when D’Angelo Russell sprained his right thumb, but the Warriors still made mighty Boston work until the waning moments.
Jayson Tatum dunked after a jump ball with 1:36 left to put Boston ahead, and the Celtics held off the undermanned Warriors 105-100 on Friday night for their 10th straight win since losing the season opener.
An out-of-bounds call initially in Golden State’s favor went to replay review and was overturned, leading to the jump ball.
Kemba Walker hit a 3-pointer with 2:19 to play that pulled Boston to 97-95, then Daniel Theis made one free throw with 1:41 remaining.
The Warriors got the ball back with 54.3 seconds left on another overturned replay, but Alec Burks missed a 3 that would have tied it and Walker scored on the other end.
“We’re trying to get better and that starts with just competing,” Golden State center Willie Cauley-Stein said. “We’re taking little steps. Today we had a chance to win it.”
Russell had 12 points and seven assists but also nine of his team’s 19 turnovers before leaving with that aching thumb in the Warriors’ sixth straight defeat. X-rays were negative and he will have an MRI.
Injury-plagued Golden State — playing without Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — faced the NBA’s top two teams in consecutive games, losing to the Lakers on the road Wednesday.
“We played our best defensive game of the year. That’s what really matters,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Burks scored 20 points off the bench, making 11 of 12 free throws as Golden State’s cast of youngsters nearly pulled off a November upset by outhustling Boston for much of the night, crashing the boards and creating second chances.
Jaylen Brown had 22 points and eight rebounds, and Tatum overcame a slow start to score 24 points for the Celtics, who lost Oct. 23 at Philadelphia to start the season before beginning their longest winning streak since 2017.
“We knew that we were going to get their best shot,” Brown said. “They came out high intensity, they jumped on us early. As we’re a young team, we’re getting used to being the team that’s being (chased) and handling that better.”
The Warriors hung tough until late, keeping the crowd engaged — something that hasn’t always been the case so far given the early struggles for a franchise that’s reached five straight NBA Finals.
“Warriors fans have always appreciated high energy, hustle, toughness, great competition,” Kerr said. “You could feel it in the building tonight. Our fans really enjoyed watching our guys compete, and that’s important. We want people to come into this building and be excited about watching our team. It’s been a rough start, but if we can compete that way and play that way we’re going to win some games and our fans will enjoy what we’re doing.”
Boston had four starters reach double figures in scoring after seven players did so in a 140-133 win against Washington on Wednesday.
Each team was missing a star player following surgery for a broken left hand: Golden State two-time MVP Curry and Boston forward Gordon Hayward, who missed his third straight game and second since the procedure.
Celtics: Brown and Tatum had three steals apiece, while Theis and Marcus Smart had two each. ... Boston shot 7 for 23 in the first quarter and 10 of 22 in the second to lead 52-51 at the break. ... The Celtics won their second straight on Golden State’s home floor and just their eighth in the last 24. ... It had been nearly 50 years since Boston played in San Francisco, a 116-111 Warriors win on Feb. 21, 1970, at Civic Auditorium. ... Boston is 3-0 vs. the Western Conference and 2-0 on the road.
Warriors: Russell had his streak of five straight 20-point games snapped. ... Curry, his hand in a brace, cheered when Golden State won a challenge midway through the third and a foul call on Eric Paschall was overturned. ... C Kevon Looney, who missed the entire preseason and only played briefly in the season opener, will be re-evaluated next Wednesday for a nerve issue that has contributed to his right hamstring injury. C Alen Smailagic (right ankle sprain) is yet to play and also will be examined again Wednesday, the team said.
GOLDEN STATE’S ROUGH START
At 2-11, the Warriors are off to their worst start since beginning 2-16 in 1999-00. The six-game losing streak matches their longest since dropping six in a row from Feb. 5-19, 2013.
Golden State dropped to 1-6 at home in new Chase Center. The Warriors are 64-13 at home vs. the Eastern Conference since 2014-15, but 0-2 this season.
“Nobody is preordained to get to play in the finals every year. It just doesn’t work that way. We sort of look at it the opposite way in that how lucky we’ve been to be part of this group over the last for me five years, for Draymond (Green) the last seven years, and have a lot of success. Maybe we were due for a year like this. That’s kind of how life works, so let’s make the most of it.” — Kerr on Green being the Warriors’ last healthy superstar.
Celtics: At the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Boston has won the last four in the series and the past two road matchups.
Warriors: At New Orleans on Sunday to start a four-game road trip. Golden State has won the last four meetings with the Pelicans and seven straight on the road, including 134-123 on Oct. 28.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.