Celtics extend winning streak to 6 games with a 134-101 rout of the Spurs

San Antonio Spurs' Devin Vassell drives to the basket as he is defended by Boston Celtics' Kristaps Porzingis (8), Jaylen Brown (7) and Derrick White during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate) (Darren Abate, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – Jayson Tatum scored 25 points, Jaylen Brown added 24 and the Boston Celtics extended their winning streak to six games with a 134-101 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.

Derrick White scored 17 points against his former team, and Kristaps Porzingis added 14 points and nine rebounds in his return after missing one game due to a calf injury.

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“We got stops,” Boston coach joe Mazzulla said. “I thought we were really good at doing both, protecting the paint and getting out to contest, which allowed us to get out in transition. I think our secondary transition, we did a good job of recognizing where the mismatch was and getting to it fast and playing together as a team through it.”

Devin Vassell scored 22 points and Victor Wembanyama had 21 points and seven rebounds for San Antonio. The Spurs have lost seven of eight.

“They are a championship-caliber team, that’s what they are out there for, that’s their goal, and they proved it once again,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Joe does a great job with them. They’ve got good talent, obviously, all-star talent; and they’ve got the grit. They’ve got the execution and getting better all the time. That’s a tough challenge at this particular time for our group.”

Boston closed out the month of December with a 12-2 record.

The matchup between the top team in the Eastern Conference and the last-place team in the West played out as expected.

“I can feel that compared to the past years, they have something extra this year,” Wembanyama said. “And, of course, it’s difficult to play against them and it is a good challenge. But I think we learned today.”

Boston led by as many as 37 points and sat its starters for most of the fourth quarter.

San Antonio never led while trailing by 35 points or more in a game for the sixth time this season.

Zach Collins sat out with a sprained ankle and lower back spasms kept Keldon Johnson out of the game. The Spurs’ offense struggled without the duo.

Wembanyama and Vassell scored San Antonio’s first 17 points. The pair combined to shoot 5 for 20 from the field in the opening quarter. The rest of the Spurs went 2 for 14. San Antonio finished 12 for 44 from 3-point range.

Wembanyama provided some of the few highlights for Spurs fans. The 7-foot-3 rookie followed up a reverse slam off an alley-oop pass from Tre Jones with a 3-pointer that cut Boston’s lead to 38-29 in the second quarter.

Wembanyama also took off from the free throw line while holding the ball over his head for a one-handed dunk against White.

“I’m not an idiot,” White said, chuckling afterwards. “I was hoping he would take another dribble, and then I could try to do that (strip or steal), but he picked it up and I never saw it again. So, I was just trying to get out of the way. That was crazy.”

Boston limited San Antonio to one offensive rebound in the first half, and held a 23-14 advantage in total rebounds.

The Celtics had six players score in double figures.

Spurs second-year player Malaki Branham (11 points) was the only player, aside from Wembanyama and Vassell, to score in double figures.

UP NEXT

Celtics: At Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Spurs: At Memphis on Tuesday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba


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