I know firsthand just how badly playoff losses can sting — and how long-lasting the sting can be. Getting revenge in a regular season game the following season will never be enough to satisfy the bitterness from the ending prior, but that doesn’t stop it from being way better than the alternative.
The Boston Celtics know that beating the Golden State Warriors in the middle of January isn’t going to make up for a lost ring from a summer ago, but especially after four straight losses to Golden State — three to close out the Finals before losing the first regular season meeting this year — a win has to feel nice.
Speaking of historical revenge, we start with Chicago blowing away Detroit:
Bulls never trail in second half of 126-108 win over Pistons
Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan combined for 56 points while five other Bulls reached double figures. Though the first half was tightly contested, Chicago never trailed in the second, outshooting Detroit 54.8% to 38.6%.
Boston beats Golden State 121-118 in OT for eighth straight victory
Al Horford admitted after his 20-point, 10-rebound outing that this was a big game for Boston, seeking revenge after faltering in last summer’s NBA Finals to this same Golden State squad. It just makes it all the sweeter for the Celtics that they’re the ones who displayed more resiliency in this contest.
Boston led by 10 about midway through the second quarter for what ended up as the largest lead by either team throughout the game, but trailed for the entirety of the second half, except for the 18 seconds tied at the end of regulation following Jaylen Brown’s clutch three.
In overtime, Jayson Tatum scored five of the Celtics’ 15 points and grabbed two rebounds, part of his special night which finished with 34 points (9-27 FG) and a career-high 19 rebounds. The win sets Boston further apart from the rest of the East with a 4.5-game lead over 2nd.
Wolves stun Raptors 128-126
After trailing by as much as 14 in the fourth, Minnesota went on to outscore Toronto 23-7 over the final 9:45. D’Angelo Russell, who finished with 25 points (8-15 FG), scored 16 of the 23 during the closing run. Anthony Edwards added 23 points of his own for the Wolves, who are tied with three other teams for all the play-in slots in the West.
After averaging 36.3 points per quarter over the first three, Toronto’s offense fell apart in the fourth, including a near-eight and a half minute stretch with just two made field goals. Scottie Barnes scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth, but aside from his 4-7 shooting in the frame, the Raptors shot just 2-12 (16.7%) from the floor on their way to a 17-point quarter.
Suns endure Nets’ late push in 117-112 win
The heavily-depleted Suns got a much-needed boost as starting forward Cam Johnson made his return to the court for the first time since Nov. 4 following meniscus surgery. Johnson played just 22 minutes on a limited basis but finished with 19 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in his return.
In addition to Johnson, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges both helped Phoenix get out to an 81-57 lead over the first two and a half quarters. Kyrie Irving scored 21 of his 30 in the fourth quarter to help Brooklyn outscore Phoenix 55-36 the rest of the way, giving the Suns everything they could handle down the stretch.
Sixers go wire-to-wire over Blazers, 105-95
Joel Embiid followed up Tuesday’s 41-point outing by posting 32 points (12-22 FG) and nine rebounds to lead Philly in scoring while James Harden tallied his fourth triple double of the season with 16 points (6-11 FG), 10 rebounds, and 14 assists.
Tyrese Maxey is now three games into a new bench role; after scoring 15 to lead Philly’s bench on Thursday, he’s averaging 17.7 points during that stretch and the Sixers are 3-0, now tied for second in the East.
Damian Lillard came into the game on his own heater, having scored 40+ in three of his previous four. The Sixers were able to contain Portland’s franchise scoring leader, holding Lillard to just 25 points (6-21 FG), but he had his way setting up his teammates with 11 assists, one shy of a new season high.