MIAMI (AFP) — 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, Dec. 23.
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 making 22 points 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.