Dennis Schroder of Oklahoma City Thunder reacts after hitting a goal in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Sunday 8. March, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo / Michael Dwyer)
BOSTON – Until Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't have to worry about how to play without top scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
It turns out that they are fine.
Dennis Schroder stripped the ball from Kemba Walker and hit 8.5 seconds in a layup to help the Thunder Rally beat the Boston Celtics 105-104.
When Gilgeous-Alexander sat for the first time this season with a hip bruise he had suffered when she won in New York on Friday, Chris Paul had 28 points and seven assists to OKC in overcoming an 18-point – Help deficits in the first half. Schroder added 27 points and six assists when OKC won its third straight.
“I said it in the locker room after the game. I said, "Headline: SGA out, roll thunder." Do you know i mean "Said Paul." Sounds good to me. Yes. "
Boston had a chance to win the game, but Jayson Tatum was close to going out. Walker recovered but was unable to fire a shot after the time had elapsed. The Celtics have lost at home four times in a row for the first time since 2015.
Gordon Hayward led the Celtics with 24 points. Tatum had 19 points and Marcus Smart added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
"This is how the NBA works," said Hayward. "You go through those runs and stretches where you feel really good, and then it's like the world is going to end. It's low for us. We have to try to build ourselves up and let go of it. "
Boston took a 100-99 lead in less than four minutes when Smart Tatum found a layup with a no-look pass behind his back.
Paul was fouled by Smart a few times later and hit two free throws to get OKC back in the lead.
Smart lost the ball on a trip to the basket on Boston's next trip and Paul extended the lead of the thunder to 103-100.
Daniel Theis received a dunk from a Boston break. Smart then kept a loose ball alive the next time thunder took possession to begin Celtics' quick pause. It ended up in Tatum's hands for a layup to set up Boston 104-103.
Oklahoma City has been one of the hottest teams in the NBA since Christmas, playing in the middle of a crowded fight for playoff seeding in the Western Conference.
Boston entered the day to return to the track after a rash of injuries.
Hayward returned to the Celtics after an absence of two games due to a bruise on his right knee. But Jaylen Brown missed his third game in a row with a strain on the right Achilles tendon.
"Most of our good teams go through such routes, and usually two or three a year," said Brad Stevens, Celtics coach. "This is our second. Hopefully we can nip that in the bud and have no third. "
OKC treated Gilgeous-Alexander's absence early and led with up to eight.
The Celtics built a 63:45 lead at the end of the second quarter, but got sloppy over the last 1:08 of the half when OKC closed with a 7-0 run to stay within striking distance. It ignited a 43-23 run of thunder.
"This team is special, you know? We just never give up, ”said Schroder. "I think everyone plays together. When we play together we play at a high level."
Thunder: Bench has surpassed the Celtics 41-17.
Celtics: Referee Eric Lewis whistled Tatum 7:07 after a technical hit after hitting the ball in response to an offensive foul. … Robert Williams briefly went to the locker room at the beginning of the fourth quarter after landing clumsily and fighting for a rebound. … Outperformed the Thunder by 37-23 points in the second quarter and removed 6 out of 11 points from the 3-point line.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he was aware of how Gilgeous-Alexander would be used, ranking 11th in the NBA in minutes per game (35.1). He played in all 82 games as a rookie last season.
"There have been a few games where I could probably have done a better job with him. I think his minutes here have been reasonably reasonable lately," said Donovan. "We had a few games against some tough opponents who increased his minutes by 38, 39, which I think is too much for him. "… So I'm definitely aware of where he is."
Donner: hosts Utah on Wednesday.
Celtics: In Indiana on Tuesday, a route of seven out of nine begins on the road.
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