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The Journal Gazette

Monday, April 16, 2018 1:00 am

NBA

Celtics show they don't need Irving

Associated Press

BOSTON – Boston coach Brad Stevens loves the postseason because it offers teams a chance to “bust narratives.”

The Celtics took their first step toward shattering the belief they can't win without their biggest stars.

Al Horford had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Boston overcame Khris Middleton's long 3 that beat the fourth-quarter buzzer, topping the Milwaukee Bucks 113-107 in overtime Sunday to open the playoffs.

The Celtics led 99-96 with 0.5 seconds left in regulation when Middleton took an inbounds pass on the far right wing and hit a contested 35-footer. Boston outscored Milwaukee 14-8 in the extra period.

Terry Rozier added 23 points, four rebounds and three assists for Boston in his first career playoff start. Jaylen Brown finished with 20 points. Rookie Jayson Tatum added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Boston. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out in overtime. Middleton had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Malcolm Brogdon scored all 16 of his points after halftime.

THUNDER 116, JAZZ 108: In Oklahoma City, Paul George scored 36 points to help Oklahoma City win Game 1 of the Western Conference series. Game 2 is Wednesday.

Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but he left in the second half with left foot soreness. He returned but was noticeably hobbling.

ROCKETS 104: TIMBERWOLVES 101: In Houston, James Harden scored 44 points and powered a big fourth-quarter run that allowed the Rockets to outlast the Timberwolves in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.

Minnesota scored four straight points to get within 3 with about 30 seconds left. Chris Paul added two free throws after that for Houston, but a tip-in by Karl-Anthony Towns got Minnesota back within 3. After a bad pass by Paul gave the Timberwolves a chance to tie it with 1.5 seconds left, Jimmy Butler's shot was short.

The top-seeded Rockets had their hands full with the No. 8 Timberwolves on a night where Houston made just 10 of 37 3-pointers.