It took the Boston Celtics two tries at the Staples Center for them to get back to their winning ways, but take 2 was a successful one on Wednesday night. Kyrie Irving scored 20 points to help the Eastern Conference leaders overcome a loss to the Lakers on Tuesday with a 113-102 win over the Clippers. Jayson Tatum added 18 points, as the Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 17-6 away from TD Garden. Their defense held the Clippers to just 44.3 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers, while on offense, they finished with five players in double figures on the night. Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 23 points, but was just 1-for-7 from three-point range. Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris had 15 points apiece for the Celtics, who made 14 three-pointers on 40 attempts from beyond the arc. Their west coast trip continues in primetime on Saturday night when they battle the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Clippers move on to Memphis and face the struggling Grizzlies on Friday night.
Simmons' Triple-Double Powers Sixers
Philadelphia's recent success, combined with the Detroit Pistons' recent struggles, has the Sixers back in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as of today. They stayed in front in that race on Wednesday, as Ben Simmons earned his fifth triple-double of the season in a 115-101 win over the Chicago Bulls. Simmons finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists, helping his team shoot 51 percent from the floor. Dario Saric added 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Joel Embiid scored 22 for the 76ers, who have won seven of 10 overall. They now hold a two-game lead over the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot in the East after Detroit fell to the Utah Jazz in overtime on Wednesday. The Sixers got the job done on Wednesday despite not having J.J. Redick, T.J. McConnell, or Jerryd Bayless due to injuries. The Bulls were coming off a tough double-overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, which saw them blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead. Bobby Portis had 22 points and Zach LeVine added 21 in the loss for Chicago, who will host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. The Sixers move on to visit the San Antonio Spurs that same night.
Nylander's Penalty Shot Lifts Leafs in Overtime
The Toronto Maple Leafs fell at the perfect time for the Boston Bruins to jump ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings. Because of that, they are looking to rack up some points and put pressure on the red-hot Bruins. They took that first step on Wednesday night, as William Nylander scored on a penalty shot just six seconds into overtime for a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The opportunity came from Duncan Keith's hooking penalty off the extra period's opening faceoff, and Nylander capitalized on the opportunity with his 10th goal of the season, earning them a victory in another close game. Eight of the past nine games for Toronto has been one-goal games, with the exception being a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche last Monday. Nylander's goal also sent the Blackhawks to their fourth straight loss, despite power play goals from Brent Seabrook and Nick Shmalz. For the Leafs, Nazem Kadri snapped a seven-game scoring drought with his 15th goal, while Mitch Marner also found the back of the net, and Frederik Andersen made 34 saves in the win. They will visit the Dallas Stars in their final game before the All-Star break, while the Blackhawks also stay on the road to battle the Detroit Red Wings.