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Undermanned Celtics fall to struggling Thunder, 119-115

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Missing two of its leading scorers, Boston couldn’t extend OKC’s losing streak.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Without Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, the Boston Celtics couldn’t generate enough offense to outlast the Oklahoma City Thunder, falling short 119-115.

Oklahoma City built a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter before two consecutive Payton Pritchard 3-pointers sliced the deficit to four. Pritchard, stepping up in the absence of Walker, who sat with a left oblique strain suffered Sunday in Charlotte, got off to a hot start with nine first-quarter points. Jaylen Brown had 11 and Boston finished the quarter down five.

A similar tale played out in the second quarter with the Thunder building another double-digit lead, this time both early and late in the frame. With under a minute remaining in the half, Pritchard once again stepped up with a quick four points to send Boston into the locker room down six.

Boston found itself facing another double-digit deficit in the third before an 18-4 run game them one of their few leads of the game before OKC countered to knot things up at 78 heading into the final frame.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair with both teams taking the lead at various points. A 9-0 run gave OKC a late 11-point lead that all but locked up a victory, but seven straight Celtic points brought them back.

Boston was down just three with 30.8 seconds remaining. In trying to go for a steal, Marcus Smart fouled Theo Maledon, who knocked down both free throws to extend the lead to five. Evan Fournier wound up getting a steal in the final seconds with Boston again down three, but he was quickly fouled and an unsuccessful missed attempt on the second free-throw snapped OKC’s 14-game losing streak.

Brown shouldered the scoring burden with a career-high-tying 42 points and Pritchard came through off the bench with a career-high 28. But no other Celtic scored more than 14 while OKC got five double-digit scorers, paced by Lu Dort’s 24.

The Celtics don’t have much time to dwell on their third loss in four games as they await the change at revenge for Sunday’s blowout loss with the Hornets coming to Boston tomorrow night.