Jaylen Brown scored 36 points as the Boston Celtics returned to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 121-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
The Celtics (23-10) moved above Milwaukee (22-10) into first place after the Bucks fell to a 118-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Brown scored 23 of his 36 in the fourth quarter as Boston picked up just their second win in seven games, outscoring the Timberwolves 33-23 in the last quarter.
Jayson Tatum scored 30 points for the Celtics, the 17th time he and Brown have both scored 30 or more in the same game.
Brown had missed his first seven 3-point attempts and the momentum shifted when he sank three early in the fourth.
“You have just got to play through it,” said Brown.
“This game will take you high and then take you low. I stayed with it and I was able to get over the hump,” he added.
“It was super important to get this win, we have been in a little rut, it felt good to get back on the winning side.”
The top spot is up for grabs again on Sunday when the Celtics host the Bucks, who will be looking to bounce back from their loss at Brooklyn.
Kevin Durant scored 24 points and Brooklyn managed to stop Milwaukee’s star Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring in the fourth quarter.
“I think we were locked in all night on both sides of the ball, it was a great team win,” said Durant.
The Nets, fourth placed in the East, have now won eight in a row and have a 19-7 record since Jacque Vaughn took over from Steve Nash as head coach.
The Philadelphia 76ers completed a seven-game homestand sweep beating the Los Angeles Clippers 119-114.
Joel Embiid scored 44 points and James Harden provided a career-best 21 assists as part of a triple-double.
Kawhi Leonard top-scored for the Clippers with 28 points, with Paul George adding 22 but only five in the second half.
It is the first time since the 1977/78 season that the 76ers swept a seven-game homestand and it has seen them improve to a 19-12 record and rise to fifth in the East.
DeMar DeRozan’s jumper in the final second clinched a 118-177 win for the Chicago Bulls over the New York Knicks.
RJ Barrett had a season-high 44 points for the Knicks while Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 33 points.
The Orlando Magic picked up their eighth win in nine games with a 133-113 win over the struggling San Antonio Spurs.
Orlando welcomed back Wendell Carter Jr and Gary Harris after lengthy injury absences — both entering from the bench.
Cole Anthony top scored with 23 points off the bench, while German Franz Wagner added 21 points.
Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 11 assists as the Western Conference leading Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trailblazers 120-107.
It was the third win in a row and sixth in the last seven for Denver who had Michael Porter Jr back in the team after missing 13 games with a heel injury. Porter scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Jamal Murray, still managing his return from knee surgery, had 25 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
The Memphis Grizzlies are level on 20-11 with Denver after they beat the Phoenix Suns 125-100 with 24 points and ten rebounds from Jaren Jackson Jr. Brandon Clarke was 10 of 10 from the free throw line as he put up 24 points from the bench.
Third-placed New Orleans Pelicans recovered from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn a 128-125 overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the absence of leading scorer Zion Williamson, Trey Murphy III top scored with 23 points.
The Washington Wizards (13-21) had lost ten of their last 11 outings but enjoyed a surprise 125-11 win at the Sacramento Kings (17-14) with Kyle Kuzma scoring 32 points.
LeBron James scored 34 points but the Los Angeles Lakers dropped to 13-19 with a 134-130 loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets.
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