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Celtics bounce back, top Warriors for 2-1 series lead – Daily News


By KYLE HIGHTOWER AP Sports Writer

BOSTON — Throughout the postseason, the Boston Celtics had played their best basketball away from home.

Not anymore.

Jaylen Brown scored 27 points, Jayson Tatum added 26 and the Celtics rode the energy of a raucous TD Garden crowd to beat back another third-quarter onslaught by Golden State in a 116-100 victory Wednesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

Marcus Smart added 24 points and helped fuel a defensive effort that held the Warriors to 11 points in the fourth quarter – the third-fewest in a Finals game in the shot clock era.

“Game 2, they brought the heat to us,” Smart said. “For us, that left a bad taste in our mouth because what we hang our hat on is effort on the defensive end and being a physical team. It definitely woke us up a little bit.”

Tatum said the fact the Celtics didn’t hang their heads after the Warriors’ third-quarter flourish is something they didn’t always do in the regular season.

“I think that’s when we are at our best when we respond to tough situations. We respond to teams going on runs and things like that,” he said. “I think we did that several times tonight.”

Boston improved to 6-4 at home, compared to 8-3 on the road this postseason. The Celtics haven’t lost two straight games since the end of March.

Steph Curry led Golden State with 31 points and six 3-pointers. He had 15 points in a 33-25 third quarter by the Warriors but was hurt late in the fourth after Al Horford rolled into his leg on a loose ball. The two-time league MVP said it was similar to a play during the regular season in which Smart dove into Curry’s legs while chasing a loose ball but “not as bad.”

“I got caught – obviously in some pain, but I’ll be all right,” Curry said. “I’ll see how it responds. I don’t feel like I’ll miss a game, though. Take advantage of these next 48 hours to get ready.”

Klay Thompson broke out of a Finals slump and finished with 25 points and five 3-pointers. But the Warriors’ shooting couldn’t save them on a night the more athletic Celtics outmuscled them for a 47-31 rebounding advantage.

“When you allow a team to get comfortable, especially in their home – in front the home crowd, then it’s tough,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said.

Robert Williams III, who has been working his way back from knee surgery, finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

“We talked about it quite a bit, our group being resilient and being able to fight through a lot of things and at times when it’s most needed being able to lock down on defense,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “We did in the fourth quarter.”

Game 4 is Friday night in Boston.

Despite Curry’s noticeable limp after the play with Horford, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was not why he pulled him from the game in the closing minutes.

“The injury didn’t force him out of the game, but I took him out down 14 with two minutes left because we weren’t going to catch up,” Kerr said.

The previous 39 times teams have split the first two games of the Finals, the winner of Game 3 went on to win the series 82% of the time.

Feeding off the energy of a Garden crowd that jeered Green throughout his miserable night in the first NBA Finals game in Boston since 2010, the Celtics started fast and led by as many as 18 points in the first half.

Coming off a Game 2 loss in which Boston turned the ball over 19 times, the Celtics’ ball movement was much crisper in the half court, which led to open perimeter shots, favorable 1-on-1 matchups and driving lanes.

It left the Warriors scrambling at times, which contributed to three foul calls on Curry in the opening 24 minutes.

But as well as Boston played, it had its early lead erased in the third quarter by a Warriors seven-point possession that included a four-point play by Curry when he drew a flagrant 1 foul on Horford and a 3-pointer by Otto Porter Jr to put Golden State in front, 83-82.

Boston recovered to take a 93-89 edge into the fourth, then outscored Golden State 23-11 in the quarter.

The Celtics led 56-39 before an 8-0 spurt in just 37 seconds by the Warriors trimmed the lead to 56-49 on a layup by Curry with 3:32 left in half. Boston flurried at the end of the half to take a 68-56 lead into halftime.

DRAYMOND’S PERSPECTIVE

Green said he heard Curry scream in pain when Horford rolled on him, and said that’s why he pulled Smart away – defending Curry, but picking up his sixth foul.

“I saw him getting dove on and that was about that. So I picked up my foul pushing off him because he’s screaming at the bottom of the pile,” Green said. “I’ll take the foul. I’m going to get him off his legs, though.”

Curry remained on the floor while Green chewed out the referee.

“He said I dove on somebody. Stephen got his legs dove on. I just asked, ‘Is that not the same thing?’” Green said. “He told me it wasn’t the same thing.”

Green was credited with setting the tone in Golden State’s Game 2 victory with nine points, seven assists, five rebounds and a technical foul – and very nearly another. But he finished with just two points and four rebounds on Wednesday.

“I was soft,” Green said, also using an expletive to describe his play with his 5-year-old son sitting next to him at the postgame podium. “We’ll be better. I’ll be better. Come out, win Game 4. Go back 2-2.”

TIP-INS

Warriors: Golden State shot 8 for 23 in the first period.

Celtics: Boston finished with 28 assists on 43 baskets, 22 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds and outscored Golden State 52-26 in the paint. … The Celtics shot 57% in the first half (27 for 47, including 8 for 18 from 3-point range). … With two 3-pointers by Brown in the first quarter, he and Tatum became the first pair of teammates in Celtics history to each make 50 3-pointers in a single postseason.

SHOVING MATCH

Green was involved in tussles with Brown and Grant Williams in Game 2 – one that ended in a technical foul call on Green.

He had another brief run-in with Williams in the second quarter Wednesday when Williams knocked Green to the ground at midcourt.





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