Bulls, Hawks suffer first loss of the season
The short-handed Boston Celtics avenged last week’s loss to the previously undefeated Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers spoiled the perfect record of the high-flying Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
The Celtics blew a 16-point fourth quarter lead but managed to hold on for a 107-100 win in an early season rematch, while the Hawks suffered a shock loss to the lowly Lakers 123-116 after dominating in their first three contests of the season.
Not only did the Celtics blow the big lead but they were missing two of their starters Wednesday in Al Horford and Jae Crowder.
“We got a lot of good players that can step in at any time,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said. “I think that’s our strength, our depth, and we’re just going to keep going.”
Horford is sidelined because of a concussion, and they lost Crowder to a sprained ankle in the second quarter. The Celtics aren’t forgetting that Kelly Olynyk is still out following shoulder surgery.
“That was a good win,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who added that his team’s injuries “are a great opportunity for everybody else.”
The Bulls slumped to their first loss of the season after knotting the score at 100-100 with a late 6-0 scoring surge. But they were shut out in the final two minutes.
One free throw by Amir Johnson and a determined drive by Thomas gave Boston (3-1) a three-point lead.
After former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo shot an airball for the Bulls, the Celtics used a runner by Marcus Smart to put the game away.
In Atlanta, it was a memorable homecoming for veteran guard Lou Williams who scored 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers pinned the first loss on the Hawks.
“Some of the shots Lou hit, he just bailed us out on,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Good teams clamp down in the fourth quarter, making it hard. Lou just created on his own.”
Williams wasn’t a factor for the Lakers until the fourth quarter when he missed just one shot. He scored 16 of his 18 points in the final quarter and the Lakers handed the Hawks their first loss after three decisive wins.
“Lou doesn’t get discouraged,” Walton said. “He and Nick, they always think the next one is going in. For a while there, I was wondering if the next one was ever going to go in.”
D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points for the Lakers, and Nick Young had 17 points, including a clinching three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining.
Dwight Howard had 31 points and 11 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway scored 26 for the Hawks.
Westbrook takes charge for Thunder
In Los Angeles, Russell Westbrook scored 35 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to an 85-83 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook was the lone Thunder player to score in double digits. He committed 10 turnovers, converted 14-of-30 shots but missed all seven of his three-point attempts.
The Thunder improved to 4-0 to remain the only unbeaten Western Conference team.
Chris Paul finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and six steals for the Clippers.
Blake Griffin added 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Marreese Speights also scored 14.
Domantas Saboni’s three-pointer and a Westbrook layup with 2:15 remaining in the contest gave Oklahoma City an 81-78 lead it would never surrender.
In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan extended his season-opening scoring surge with 40 points and the Raptors continued their regular-season dominance over the Washington Wizards with a 113-103 win at the Air Canada Center.