The Boston Celtics’ surprise slide continued on Tuesday as the defending NBA champions were beaten 91-86 by an undermanned Portland Trail Blazers.
Steve Blake had 21 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 for Portland, which was without All-Star guard Brandon Roy and was coming off a seven-game losing streak. The win move the Blazers equal top of the Northwest Division.
Boston has lost three from four after having broken the franchise record for consecutive wins with 19. Prior to the holiday slump, the Celtics had lost only two games this season.
HEAT 104, CAVALIERS 95
In Miami, Dwyane Wade had 21 points and 12 assists as Miami beat Cleveland and dropped LeBron James’ pro record on his birthdays to 0-3.
Mario Chalmers added 21 points and eight assists for the Heat who put the game away with a 16-3 run in the final quarter.
On the day he turned 24, James scored 24 of his 38 points in the second half, almost enough to rally Cleveland out of its biggest deficit of the season, a 16-point hole at halftime.
BUCKS 100, SPURS 98
In San Antonio, Milwaukee hung on to beat San Antonio when Spurs star Tim Duncan missed a layup with 3.8 seconds to go.
Michael Redd had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who snapped San Antonio’s five-game winning streak.
HAWKS 110, PACERS 104
In Indianapolis, Joe Johnson scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to help streaking Atlanta beat Indiana.
The Hawks have won six straight games and nine of 10 to move within three games of Southeast Division leader Orlando.
A Pacers’ 3-pointer cut Atlanta’s lead to one with 1:36 left but Johnson hit his own 3-pointer to make it 108-104 and two free throws to finish the scoring.
It was the Pacers’ fourth consecutive loss.
SUNS 101, GRIZZLIES 89
In Memphis, Tennessee, Shaquille O’Neal moved into eighth place on the NBA career scoring list as Phoenix beat Memphis.
The Suns were without star Steve Nash (back spasms) but Leandro Barbosa filled in admirably with 28 points. He connected on 10 of 18 shots and scored 22 points in the second half.
O’Neal had 24 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, and his fourth-quarter dunk moved him past Oscar Robertson on the career scoring list with 26,711 points. O’Neal was 8-of-13 from the field and missed only two of his 10 free throws.
HORNETS 97, WIZARDS 85
In New Orleans, Chris Paul had 15 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds for his third triple-double of the season as New Orleans beat Washington.
The Hornets led most of the way and never trailed by more than a basket in its third straight victory.
KNICKS 93, BOBCATS 89
In Charlotte, North Carolina, New York ended a six-game losing streak in beating Charlotte and improved to 2-0 against its former coach Larry Brown.
Wilson Chandler scored seven of his 19 points in the final 4 minutes to secure the win as the Knicks recovered from blowing a 17-point lead and stayed perfect against Brown, who was fired in the 2005-2006 season and is in his first season with the struggling Bobcats.
KINGS 92, CLIPPERS 90
In Sacramento, California, Sacramento snapped a six-game losing streak by downing Los Angeles.
Returning from three weeks out with an ankle injury, Kevin Martin scored 20 points as the Kings won despite scoring only two points in the final four-and-a-half minutes.
The Clippers were just as bad in the closing stages, failing to score in the last three minutes to lose their fourth straight game.