Harden hits late 3, 76ers defeat Celtics in semifinal opener
BOSTON (AP) — James Harden matched his playoff career high with 45 points and hit a go-ahead, step-back 3-pointer over Al Horford with 8.7 seconds left as the Philadelphia 76ers rallied without Joel Embiid to beat the Boston Celtics 119-115 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup on Monday night.
Tyrese Maxey added 26 points and Tobias Harris finished with 18 for the Sixers, who made 17 3-pointers in the absence of MVP finalist Embiid, who sat sat out with the sprained right knee he sustained in Game 3 of Philadelphia’s first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 39 points and 11 rebounds. Jaylen Brown added 23 points and Malcolm Brogdon finished with 20.
Boston hosts Game 2 on Wednesday night.
NUGGETS 97, SUNS 87
DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 39 points and 16 rebounds to rally Denver to a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Jokic’s big night was necessary as Jamal Murray scored just 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting after he scored 34 in the series opener when he had six 3-pointers. Murray was 0 for 9 from long range Monday night. The Suns lost Chris Paul to a tight left groin late in the third quarter.
Aaron Gordon added 16 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 14 points and went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc, including back-to-back swishes that erased a 73-70 deficit and put the Nuggets ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 35 points and Kevin Durant added 24.
The teams get an extended break before the series resumes with Game 3 in Phoenix on Friday night.
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The Associated Press