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The Journal Gazette

Friday, December 29, 2017 1:00 am

NBA

Celtics climb out of 26-point hole

Associated Press

BOSTON – Al Horford made a hook shot with 3.7 seconds left to give Boston its only lead of the game, and the Celtics rallied from a 26-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday night.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 and Jayson Tatum finished with 19 for the Celtics, while Marcus Smart drew two offensive fouls against James Harden in the closing seconds to help Boston complete the comeback.

Smart and Terry Rozier had 13 points apiece.

Tatum made a layup with 7 seconds left to pull the Celtics within 98-97, then Smart had position on Harden for an offensive foul that gave Boston the ball and a chance to win it. Horford converted from the lane to put Boston up for the first time in a game Houston had led throughout and dominated until midway through the third quarter.

Harden finished with 34 points and 10 assists. Eric Gordon scored 24 points for Houston, which shot 25 percent (9 of 36) in the second half and lost its fourth straight.

The Rockets had one last chance after Horford's go-ahead hook shot, but Harden was called for another offensive foul and time expired after Horford missed his second free throw.

Houston opened the game on a 12-0 run and led 62-38 at halftime. After committing six turnovers in the first half, Houston had seven in the third quarter and Boston capitalized by outscoring the Rockets 31-16.

Irving scored 12 in the third quarter as Boston picked up its defense, holding Houston to just four field goals in the period.

MAGIC 102, PISTONS 89. With AP Photos.

In Orlando, Florida, Elfrid Payton had 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to help Orlando break a nine-game losing streak.

Evan Fournier scored 17 points and Aaron Gordon had 14 for Orlando, but it was the Magic's backup centers who made the difference in the game.

Bismack Biyombo had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Marresse Speights scored 16 points as replacements for injured starter Nikola Vucevic.

Tobias Harris scored 21 points for Detroit, which had won five of six. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 18 rebounds, and Ish Smith contributed 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists