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Clippers rout Celtics, Nets cruise past Wizards

Dec 12, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers guard Paul George (13) battles for the ball with Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) in the second half at Crypto.com Arena. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 113-93. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers guard Paul George (13) battles for the ball with Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) in the second half at Crypto.com Arena. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 113-93. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Clippers dealt the Boston Celtics another setback on Monday, beating the top team in the NBA in decisive style, 113-93.


Paul George scored 26 points and Kawhi Leonard scored a season high of 25 points with nine rebounds and six assists as the injury-plagued Clippers showed how good they can be at full strength.


Jalyen Brown scored 21 points and Jayson Tatum added 20 with 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who were coming off a 123-107 loss to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch on Saturday.


It's the first time since October that the Celtics have dropped two games in a row, their league-best record falling to 21-7.


The Clippers dialled in defensively on the Celtics' dangerous scorers, limiting Tatum to four-of-12 shooting in the first half as Los Angeles took a 56-47 lead at the break.


Tatum and Brown combined for just three three-pointers in 14 attempts as the Celtics made just nine of 39 from beyond the arc.


Leonard said the strong defensive display was "a group effort by everybody.


"Being locked in to their plays, making sure that Tatum is getting double-teamed and Brown is seeing a lot of hands when he shoots the basketball, that's what it took."


Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said he thought the Celtics "lost our poise" in the third quarter, which Leonard and George started on a scoring tear.


"But the margin for error is small," Mazzulla said. "When you get great looks and you don't make them you have to find other ways to win."


Elsewhere, the Brooklyn Nets cruised to their fourth straight victory as Kevin Durant's 30 points fuelled a 112-100 win over the Wizards in Washington.


The Nets, who battled through early season struggles that saw coach Steve Nash sacked then dealt with the suspension of Kyrie Irving in an anti-Semitism row, have now won eight of their last nine games.


"We're building something," Durant said. "We've got to keep fine-tuning."


On Monday, the Nets led by double digits for much of the second half, holding the Wizards to 45 points after the interval.


Durant added nine rebounds and six assists and Irving added 24 points as the Nets dealt the Wizards a seventh straight defeat.


Will Barton scored 22 points off the bench to lead the Wizards, who had 20 points apiece from Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma.


The Nets trail Cleveland by just half a game for third place in the East after the Cavaliers were up-ended by Western Conference stragglers San Antonio 112-111.


Josh Richardson scored 24 points to lead the Spurs, who were up by 10 with 4:35 to play and held on despite a Cavs rally that cut the deficit to two on Donovan Mitchell's putback basket with 53 seconds remaining.


Evan Mobley added a free throw that pulled Cleveland within one with 37.9 seconds left.


But Keldon Johnson blocked a shot by Mitchell, Cleveland's Darius Garland missed a three-pointer and Spurs reserve Devin Vassell came up with a steal to seal the victory.


Grizzlies down Hawks


The injury absence of Ja Morant was no problem for the Memphis Grizzlies, who roared to a 128-103 home victory over the Atlanta Hawks.


Tyus Jones scored 22 points and Jaren Jackson delivered 15 points, seven rebounds and a career-high eight blocked shots -- which tied the Grizzlies' franchise single-game record shared by Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift.


The Grizzlies won their sixth straight and moved within half a game of the New Orleans Pelicans atop the Western Conference.


In Dallas, Luka Doncic scored 38 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the Mavericks' 121-114 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 points for the Mavericks, who drained 22 three-pointers and withstood a 42-point performance from Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to snap a two-game losing streak.


In Portland, Damian Lillard drilled 11 three-pointers on the way to 38 points in the Trail Blazers' 133-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.


Lillard might have challenged the single-game record of 14 three-pointers, held by Golden State's Klay Thompson, but he sat out the fourth quarter with the game in hand. -- AFP


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