Maybe the difficulty of the victory made it more rewarding. The recently-listless-at-home Celtics played a passionate, if not always efficient, 48 minutes Friday night against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.
And following two disheartening defeats, the Celtics sealed this one with late-game execution and a couple of timely shots, fighting off the expected barrage by All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
The Celtics spent the second half staving off rallies with pinpoint shooting, ball movement, and key rebounds, and registered a win over one of the league’s elite, 108-100, in front of a raucous TD Garden crowd.
Jason Terry (16 points) sealed it with a crushing 3-pointer with 36.7 seconds left as the Thunder sliced a 14-point deficit to 3 as Westbrook and Durant combined for 22 fourth-quarter points. The Celtics halted a two-game skid, and moved a game over .500 at 7-6.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points and Jeff Green, facing his former team for the first time since being traded in February 2011, added 17 off the bench in 24 minutes. Durant led the Thunder with 29 points and Westbrook added 26, including two free throws that made it 101-98 with 1:56 left. Former Celtic Kendrick Perkins added 5 points and nine boards for the Thunder, who fell to 9-4.
Garnett hit two free throws, and following a missed Westbrook layup, Terry took a pass from Rajon Rondo (16 assists) and beat the shot clock with his fourth 3-pointer of the evening.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe