Westbrook’s 3s Lead Thunder Past Celtics 97-88

Kevin Durant scored 28 with seven rebounds for the Thunder, who won their seventh consecutive game. Thabo Sefolosha scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Kendrick Perkins had seven points and five rebounds in his first game back in Boston since the trade that sent him to Oklahoma City and broke up the starting lineup from the Celtics’ 2008 NBA championship team.

Paul Pierce scored 24 points, Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Jermaine O’Neal had 12 points and 11 boards for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo scored 12 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for Boston, which lost its fifth straight game for the first time in the New Big 3 era.

Perkins went over to the Celtics bench before the opening tip to hug the coaches and chest-bump some of his former teammates, and midway through the first quarter a video tribute was played on the scoreboard. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, which Perkins acknowledged by walking to center court alone and waving.

Durant had a tomahawk slam to give the Thunder an 83-78 lead, but Boston cut the deficit to 83-80 with 2:25 to play. Westbrook cut across the lane and whipped a two-handed pass to Sefolosha in the corner for the 3. After Rondo scored on a putback, Westbrook hit a 3-pointer of his own — then celebrated by strutting down the sideline.

After Garnett hit Mickael Pietrus to set up a Celtics 3-pointer, Westbrook answered again to make it 92-85. The Thunder went just 2 of 11 from 3-point range in the first three quarters, but 5 of 8 in the fourth.

The Celtics had not had a five-game losing streak since they lost seven straight and eight of the last nine games of the 2006-07 season, a year when they also had an 18-game losing streak that was the longest in franchise history. That summer they began assembling the New Big 3, bringing in Garnett and Ray Allen to join Pierce — and Rondo and Perkins.

Perkins was the starting center on the team that won the championship in 2008. But when the Celtics returned to the finals in 2010, Perkins injured his knee in Game 6 against the Lakers and missed Game 7, which Los Angeles won 83-79.

With Perkins’ rehabilitation due to last well into the following season, general manager Danny Ainge signed Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. Confident that they would remain healthy contributors, Ainge traded Perkins to Oklahoma City for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green, but neither of them was able to remain in the lineup and the Celtics lost in the second round of the playoffs to Miami.

The trade looked even worse when Green was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, requiring surgery that put him out for this entire season. He is now a free agent.

The Thunder led most of the first half, including a 10-point lead early in the second quarter and a 46-39 advantage at the half. Pierce, who scored Boston’s last six points in the second quarter, scored three more quick baskets early in the third, and back-to-back-layups by Jermaine O’Neal left it tied 57-all with 5 minutes left in the third.

It was 65-62 when Oklahoma City scored the last seven points of the quarter to make it a 10-point game.

Notes: New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty and receiver Julian Edelman took time off from their preparations for the AFC championship to attend the game. … The teams split their games last year, each winning on the road. Durant missed the game in Boston with a sore left ankle. … Thunder guard Reggie Jackson played at Boston College.

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Celtics Make Green Offer, Exercise Bradley Option

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have made a qualifying offer to forward Jeff Green, making him a restricted free agent.

Also Thursday, the team exercised its option on guard Avery Bradley for the 2012-13 season. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds with the Celtics last season after coming to Boston in the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City.

Bradley averaged 1.7 points in 5.2 minutes per game as a rookie for the Celtics. He was Boston’s first-round draft pick, 19th overall.

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Knicks’ Playoff Return Will Start With Celtics

On Monday, the Knicks (42-38) clinched the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed when the fell to the and the beat the undermanned Celtics in overtime.

The Knicks will conclude the regular season with back-to-back games against Chicago and in Boston, beginning Tuesday. The Celtics lead the season series against the Knicks, three games to none.

The (57-24) clinched the conference’s second seed with a win over Atlanta on Monday, coupled with Boston’s loss. Boston (55-26) all but conceded the spot to Miami after a 100-77 loss to the Heat on Sunday. Against Washington, Boston trotted out a makeshift lineup and rested the starters Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and . The Celtics’ second string still managed to take the Wizards to overtime but Crawford’s playoff-clarifying 3-pointer handed Boston a 95-94 loss.

The Knicks’ series with the Celtics will probably open on Sunday in Boston. Games 3 and 4 will be played at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks were swept by in 2004 and have not won a playoff game since 2001, when they beat the twice in the first round, but lost the series, three games to two.

They will be looking to expunge that mark, although the Knicks routinely struggle against Boston. All of this season’s games were close, with the veteran Celtics like Allen and Garnett taking over by the end of the games. The Knicks lost, 105-101, to Boston, in their second game of the season. In another loss in December, Amar’e Stoudemire’s would-be game-winning 3-pointer was ruled to have come after time expired.

Only the last matchup featured the teams in their current form: the Knicks with and Boston without Kendrick Perkins, their talented and perpetually scowling center. He and Nate Robinson were traded to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

In that third game, Boston scored the final 10 points to pull away for a 96-86 victory. But over all, Boston has struggled somewhat since the Perkins trade, although they also lagged last year in the second half of the season before reemerging in the playoffs and taking the to the seventh game of the finals.

At the moment, Boston has depth issues, chemistry concerns and injury woes, particularly concerning , who has missed 44 games with injuries to his right leg. Some have speculated that this may be Boston’s last stand with its current core. Meanwhile, the coach, , has debated his return each summer.

The Knicks and the Celtics are part of the N.B.A.’s original franchises and their playoff matchups date back to the 1950-51 season, only a few years seasons after the birth of the N.B.A. The Knicks have met Boston 13 times in the playoffs, more than any other opponent. They have won six of those series.

However, this is their first playoff meeting in 21 years, with each franchise rotating between being at the bottom and top tiers of the N.B.A. in the past two decades. The Knicks won that last matchup, stunning the Celtics by capturing the fifth and final game of the first-round series in Boston, with point guard Maurice Cheeks playing all 48 minutes for the Knicks.

The Knicks appear to finally be adjusting to their trade for Anthony and have won seven straight games. The latest victory came on Anthony’s game-winner against Indiana on Sunday. A win against Chicago on Tuesday night would match their longest winning streak of the season.

However, Coach may choose to rest Anthony and others, although he does want Stoudemire, who has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, to play again before the regular season ends. It is not clear how much the key members of the Knicks and the Celtics will play in the regular-season finale against one another on Wednesday. But it probably will not be much.

The rest of the Eastern Conference matchups are: Chicago against Indiana, Miami against Philadelphia, and Orlando against Atlanta. But none of them resonate like the Knicks versus the Celtics, provided the Knicks can make a series out of it.

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