Celtics top the Heat to take a 3-1 lead in the East

Los Angeles Lakers center Jaxson Hayes, center, pulls in a rebound between Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., left, and guard Christian Braun, right, in the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Monday, April 29, 2024, in Denver.
Los Angeles Lakers center Jaxson Hayes, center, pulls in a rebound between Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., left, and guard Christian Braun, right, in the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Monday, April 29, 2024, in Denver. AP Photo

MIAMI — Derrick White scored a career-high 38 points, Jayson Tatum added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat 102-88 on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Jaylen Brown scored 17 points and Jrue Holiday had 11 for the top-seeded Celtics, who lost Kristaps Porzingis in the first half to what the team said was a right calf injury. Boston won at Miami for the sixth straight time and improved to 14-3 in their last 17 games on the Heat’s home floor.

Bam Adebayo finished with 25 points, 17 rebounds and five assists for Miami, which had a sellout crowd — including Lionel Messi — but played again without injured starters Jimmy Butler (knee) and Terry Rozier (neck). The Heat managed only 84 points in Game 3 and struggled again on offense in Game 4. Tyler Herro scored 19 points and Caleb Martin had 18 for the eighth-seeded Heat.

The Celtics can advance to the second round on Wednesday when they host Game 5. The Boston-Miami winner will meet the Cleveland-Orlando winner in the East semifinals; that Cavaliers-Magic series won’t end until at least Friday.

THUNDER 97, PELICANS 89

NEW ORLEANS — Jalen Williams highlighted a 24-point performance with a back-breaking 3 with three minutes left, and Oklahoma City beat New Orleans Pelicans to complete a four-game sweep of their first-round playoff series.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which trailed by five in the fourth quarter before suddenly seizing control with a combination of stifling defense and opportunistic shooting.

New Orleans led 80-75 and had a chance to take what would have been the biggest lead for either team when Jose Alvarado blocked Gilgeous-Alexander and sent CJ McCollum the other way on a two-on-one break.

McCollum could not convert at the rim, however. Soon after, Chet Holmgren’s putback and Josh Giddey’s 3 tied it at 80 and ignited a decisive 18-2 run, capped by Williams’ second-chance 3, that put the Thunder up 93-82 with 3:08 left.

New Orleans, which played the entire series without star power forward Zion Williamson, never recovered.

Giddey and Holmgren each scored 14 points. Holmgren also had nine rebounds.

McCollum scored 20 for New Orleans, which continued to be plagued by poor 3-point shooting. The Pelicans hit just eight of 34 shots from deep (23.5%).

NUGGETS 108, LAKERS 106

DENVER — Jamal Murray scored 32 points despite a strained calf and sank the game-winner with 3.6 seconds left as the defending NBA champion Denver bounced LeBron James from the playoffs again with a win over Los Angeles.

James’ two free throws tied it at 106 with 26 seconds left and the Nuggets, just as they did in Game 2, eschewed the timeout and Murray took the ball on a high screen and roll to his left, shaking Austin Reaves and he crossed through the lane and swished the 14-footer.

It was Murray’s buzzer beater that won Game 2.

“This one was a little better,” Murra said as confetti swirled around him and his celebrating teammates.

Nikola Jokic, who committed an uncharacteristic seven turnovers, narrowly missed his 19th career playoff triple-double with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists and Michael Porter Jr. scored 26.

James had 30 points and 11 assists and Davis had 17 points and 15 rebound but appeared bothered down the stretch after banging his left shoulder into MPJ in the second half.

The Nuggets advanced to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round starting next weekend. That series starts in Denver, where the Nuggets are a Western Conference-best 36-8, including 3-0 in the playoffs. (AP)

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