Tatum scores 50 points, Celtics beat Nets to cut deficit

Sports

BOSTON (AP)Jayson Tatum scored a playoff career-high 50 points to carry the Boston Celtics back into their series against the Brooklyn Nets with a 125-119 victory Friday night in Game 3.

In an emotionally charged atmosphere with the fans booing and chanting at former Celtics star Kyrie Irving every time he was involved in something, Tatum displayed an array of drives, step-back jumpers and 3-pointers to cut the Nets’ lead to 2-1.

After scoring 50 points in Boston’s play-in tournament victory, Tatum struggled in the two games in Brooklyn but steadied the Celtics in Game 3 after the Nets shot out to a quick 15-point lead.

It was Irving’s first game in front of Boston’s fans since he left via free agency in 2019.

James Harden led the Nets with 41 points, Kevin Durant had 39 and Irving finished with 16 on 6-of-17 shooting.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is set for Sunday night in Boston, where the Celtics will be allowed to have a near-capacity crowd in TD Garden when Massachusetts lifts the limits Saturday on crowd sizes due to the pandemic. It was limited to 25% on Friday.

Marcus Smart added 23 points for the Celtics, Tristan Thompson gave them a huge lift with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Evan Fournier added 17 points. Kemba Walker had a rough night, scoring only six on 3-of-14 shooting.

CLIPPERS 118, MAVERICKS 108

DALLAS (AP) – Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points, Paul George added 29 and Los Angeles spoiled Luka Doncic’s home playoff debut, beating Dallas to get back in the series.

The Clippers bounced back from two losses at home by withstanding a huge early surge by the Mavericks in front of their biggest – and loudest – crowd by far this season.

Dallas takes a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 on Sunday night.

Doncic fed the frenzy of 17,705 fans, more than three times the size of any crowd in a season that started with an empty arena, by making his first four shots, three of them 3-pointers, on his way to a playoff career-high 44 points as Dallas took a 30-11 lead.

Leonard made his first eight shots – three of them on the 14-0 run that quieted the crowd – and George scored 22 points before halftime on 10-of-13 shooting. Marcus Morris hit three corner 3s in front of the Dallas bench in the fourth quarter to help the Clippers stay comfortably in front.

HAWKS 105, KNICKS 94

ATLANTA (AP) – Shaking off a spitting incident at Madison Square Garden, Trae Young dazzled in the first home playoff game of his career, scoring 21 points and adding 14 assists to help Atlanta beat New York in Game 3.

Spurred on by a raucous crowd of 15,743, by far the largest of the season in Atlanta, the Hawks pulled ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Sunday in Atlanta.

During Game 2 in New York, a Knicks fan spit on Young as he was inbounding the ball during the fourth quarter of a tight contest – one of three incidents in a matter of hours at NBA arenas across the country, renewing calls for increased security and other measures to deal with unruly fans. A total of five fans in New York, Philadelphia and Utah were banned from games for their misbehavior.

Derrick Rose led the Knicks with 30 points.

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