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Irving leads Celtics past Raptors, 76ers and Bucks win

By AFP
media Newly acquired Jimmy Butler makes his home debut for Philadelphia in the 76ers' win over the Utah Jazz GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Kyrie Irving scored 23 of his 43 points in the fourth quarter and overtime Friday as the Boston Celtics made a statement with a 123-116 victory over the NBA's Eastern Conference leading Toronto Raptors.

Irving added 11 assists and Jayson Tatum chipped in 21 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who erased an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to improve to 9-6 while the Raptors fell to 12-4.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Raptors, who have lost three in a row since opening the season with 12 wins in their first 13 games.

Trailing 82-78 at the end of the third quarter, the Celtics were down 86-78 after Leonard's layup with 10:37 left in the fourth.

But they out-scored Toronto 29-25 in the final frame, knotting the score at 90-90 on Irving's three-pointer.

Toronto regained a 107-103 lead with 1:29 remaining in regulation, but Tatum's dunk and Gordon Hayward's free throws pulled Boston level, while Leonard missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.

Boston quickly seized control in overtime, in which they never trailed.

"We wanted to come out and be the aggressive team," Irving said. "We got kind of stalled in that third quarter, but we picked it up again down the stretch."

Hayward called the victory "a building block".

"We're still not playing our best basketball," he said. "I think we've shown numerous times we are fighters and we will continue to fight, but we have to get to the point where we are playing 48 minutes of basketball."

In Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler scored 28 points in his home debut for the 76ers, leading the way in a 113-107 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Butler, acquired on Monday from the Minnesota Timberwolves, got a warm welcome from Philly fans and made a quick impact as the hosts seized a 16-point lead in the first quarter.

The Jazz dug in to make it close, and the teams traded the lead six times in the fourth quarter.

Ben Simmons drove for a layup that put Philadelphia up 109-107 with 58.7 seconds remaining, and Butler drained a jump shot to stretch the lead, then drew an offensive foul from the Jazz.

Joel Embiid, who scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, capped the scoring with two free throws and the Sixers improved to 10-7.

Butler, whose first game with the Sixers was Wednesday's loss at Orlando, also contributed seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.

- Bucks rally to beat Bulls -

The Milwaukee Bucks turned up the heat in the second half of a 123-104 home win over the Chicago Bulls in which the hosts trailed by 18 points at halftime.

Eric Bledsoe scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half while Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton added 23 apiece for the Bucks, who had six players score in double figures.

"We knew that we didn't play hard enough the first half," said Antetokounmpo, who also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots as the Bucks improved to 11-4, second to the Raptors in the East.

"We went to the locker room, coach told us we had to pick up the pace, pick up the energy, play with more effort -- so that's what we did."

In New Orleans, Anthony Davis scored 43 points and pulled down 17 rebounds as the Pelicans roared back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the New York Knicks 129-124.

Julius Randle had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans, his free throws with 2:33 remaining putting the Pelicans ahead for the first time.

From there New Orleans held off the young Knicks team who suffered a fourth straight defeat.

It was record-setting night for Spain's Marc Gasol in Memphis, who surpassed Zach Randolph's Grizzlies record of 5,612 rebounds in a 112-104 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Gasol set the franchise record when he pulled down his 15th rebound with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter.

 
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