Celtics cool off Heat, join Cavs atop East

LOS ANGELES: The Boston Celtics held off the Miami Heat 112-108 on Sunday to pull into a virtual tie atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference with reigning champions Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics’ fourth straight victory gave them one more win than the Cavs ­— who fell to the Washington Wizards on Saturday. But they also have one more defeat, leaving them technically just a few percentage points behind Cleveland.
Knowing plenty can happen with just over two weeks left in the regular season, the Celtics weren’t getting too excited. “I mean, it’s nice. It’s just a tie though. So it’s not that cool,” said Isaiah Thomas, who led the Celtics with 30 points.
The Celtics have a day off on Monday, when Cleveland face the dangerous San Antonio Spurs. The Celtics and Cavaliers will meet one more time in the regular season, on April 5 in Boston.
The defeat, and the Chicago Bulls’ 109-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, left Miami just a half-game ahead of Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
The Pacers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 107-94 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the reeling Hawks endured a seventh straight defeat — 107-92 to the Brooklyn Nets.
Rockets silence Thunder
In Houston, the Rockets withstood Russell Westbrook’s 36th triple-double of the season to silence the Oklahoma City Thunder 137-125.
The contest featured two top MVP candidates in Westbrook and Houston’s James Harden.
Westbrook, who scored 39 points with 11 rebounds and 13 assists, is within sight of legendary Oscar Robertson’s 41 triple-doubles of the 1961-62 season.
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors won their seventh straight, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 106-94 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Warriors took their record to 59-14 and pushed their lead over San Antonio atop the West to 2 1/2 games. — AFP