The Celtics earned their 12th straight NBA win by defeating the Toronto Raptors 95-94 at TD Garden in Boston on Sunday.
Playing without star point guard Kyrie Irving, the Celtics worked their way back from a five-point half-time deficit. Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion, and he scored 21 points on eight-of-nine shooting, while also dishing out four assists.
The Celtics are no strangers to playing without key players. Gordon Hayward (out for the season), Jayson Tatum, Irving and Horford have all missed time, yet they remain atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Marcus Smart started in place of Irving on Monday, and he scored 14 points with nine assists and five rebounds. Backup point guard Terry Rozier added 16 points with six rebounds.
Boston have averaged just 102.2 points per game so far this season, which is third-worst in the East. But they have held teams to an NBA-best 94.0 points per game. If the Celtics can continue playing stifling defense, they could be tough to beat once the lineup is near full strength.
Tobias Harris and and Avery Bradley led the Pistons to a 112-103 win over the Heat. Harris scored 25 points, making five of eight attempts from three-point range, while hauling in seven rebounds. Bradley added 24 points with six rebounds and two steals. Detroit have now won five straight games and eight of their last nine.
Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews scored just one point on 0-for-nine shooting in a 112-99 loss to the Thunder. Dallas (2-12) have now lost eight of their last nine games, and Matthews is shooting under 33 per cent this month.
James Harden worked a step-back jumper.
Harden scored 26 points with 15 assists to lead Houston to a 118-95 win over the Pacers. The Rockets have now won six straight games.
Aaron Gordon is in the midst of a breakout season, while elevating Orlando into Eastern Conference play-off contention. Warriors star Stephen Curry is questionable for this game with a right thigh contusion. Golden State have been on a roll lately, but Curry’s status will be something to watch.