Celtics 117, Timberwolves 109

Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence to help Boston fend off host Minnesota, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to pace the Celtics in a victory over the Timberwolves on Thursday night.

Al Horford added 20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and tough defense on Karl-Anthony Towns for the Celtics, who stayed two games behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference race with their sixth win in seven games. They have three more losses than the Raptors.

Nemanja Bjelica scored a career-high 30 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including 6-for-9 from 3-point range. His first 20-10 game in the NBA was ultimately wasted in the third straight loss for the Timberwolves, who are still trying to find their way without injured All-Star Jimmy Butler. They trailed by as many as 18 points soon after halftime, too much to overcome some second-half surges behind Bjelica and 18 points from Taj Gibson on 8-for-10 shooting.

• Derrick Rose has signed with the Timberwolves in a move that reunites the 2011 NBA MVP with three mainstays from his days in Chicago — coach Tom Thibodeau, as well as Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

Rose was with New York last season and started this season with Cleveland, but appeared in only 16 games with the Cavs because of injuries. The Cavs traded Rose to Utah and the Jazz waived him shortly afterward.

Thunder 115, Suns 87

Russell Westbrook had 27 points, eight rebounds and nine assists to help the host Oklahoma City Thunder rout the Phoenix Suns.

Paul George added 21 points, Corey Brewer had 17, Steven Adams 16, and Carmelo Anthony 11. Brewer, who made his Thunder debut two games ago, replaced Josh Huestis in the starting lineup and responded with a 6-for-11 performance from the floor.

Devin Booker, wearing a headband for the first time in his three-year NBA career, had 30 points for Phoenix.

Heat 108, 76ers 99

Hassan Whiteside scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade added 16 and the host Miami Heat moved a step closer to the playoffs by beating the Philadelphia 76ers.

Josh Richardson scored 13 points, Tyler Johnson had 12 and Kelly Olynyk added 10 to help the Heat stay No. 7 in the Eastern Conference and move within a game of No. 6 Philadelphia.

Dario Saric had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who got 19 points from JJ Redick and 17 from Joel Embiid.

Nets 125, Hornets 111

Allen Crabbe made his first six 3-pointers and had 29 points and eight rebounds and the visiting Brooklyn Nets beat the listless Charlotte Hornets to snap a four-game losing streak.