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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LOS ANGELES: Los Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way with 36 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder snapped Boston's six-game winning streak with a 127-123 victory on Tuesday.
A heavyweight clash between two of the league's top teams lived up to its billing as Oklahoma City's youthful line-up went toe-to-toe with the Celtics, who lead the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Gilgeous-Alexander's points haul came from 14-of-22 shooting, with the talented point guard adding eight rebounds and six assists on a night when five Thunder players finished in double figures at Oklahoma City's Paycom Center.
Australia's Josh Giddey added 23 points while Jalen Williams scored 16 and Chet Holmgren 14. Isaiah Joe chipped in with 10 off the bench as the Thunder extended their own winning-streak to five games.
"Those guys have been to multiple conference finals, won plenty of basketball games and they have the best record in the league," Gilgeous-Alexander said of Boston.
"We knew it was going to take a whole game if we wanted to beat them. No matter how big the lead, we knew they weren't going to lie down."
Boston led 61-58 at halftime but the game swung decisively in favor of Oklahoma City after a devastating third quarter in which they outscored the Celtics 40-25, with Gilgeous-Alexander pouring in 16 points.
Oklahoma City appeared to be cruising towards victory, opening up an 18-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Boston, however, rallied bravely to cut the Thunder's lead to just two points to set up a nervy finish.
Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey steadied the ship for the home team down the stretch, bagging clutch free throws in the dying seconds to give Oklahoma City the win
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault was satisfied with the victory but admitted his team had been "sloppy" after allowing Boston back in the game in the closing stages of the fourth quarter.
"I thought we were pretty resilient tonight. But they kept coming, they're a talented team," Daigneault said.
"I thought we got a little sloppy at both ends of the court trying to sla m the door on the game, but then we made big plays down the stretch and executed with poise."
Kristaps Porzingis led Boston's scorers with 34 points while Jayson Tatum had another big game with 30 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Boston remain at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 26-7 record while Oklahoma City are now just one game adrift of the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves, improving to 23-9.
In other games on Tuesday, Joel Embiid made a successful return from a four-game absence with a triple-double as Philadelphia maintained their pursuit of Boston at the top of the East with a 110-97 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Embiid's second triple-double of the season comprised 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, and came after he had missed several games with an ankle injury.
"I wasn't able to put weight on my foot a few days ago," Embiid said afterward.
"That's why I felt so tired. I was out of shape. Over the next couple of days I've got to get back to get on the floor and try to get back to myself."
Elsewhere, Ja Morant scored 26 points and Desmond Bane added 24 as the Memphis Grizzlies downed the San Antonio Spurs 106-98. French No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama led San Antonio's scorers with 20 points, while Keldon Johnson added 19 from the bench.
In New Orleans, the Pelicans cruised past the Brooklyn Nets 112-85, leading from start to finish to extend their win streak to three games.
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