NBA playoffs: Celtics rally to beat Nets; 76ers, Bulls win
Jaylen Brown scored 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and the Boston Celtics rallied from 17 points down to beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-107 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
Jayson Tatum added 19 points for the Celtics, who held Kevin Durant without a basket in the second half. Al Horford had 16 points, Daniel Theis scored 15 and Payton Pritchard had eight of his 10 in the final period.
Durant finished with 27 points but struggled from the field for the second straight game, shooting four of 17. Kyrie Irving had just 10 points on four-of-13 shooting a day after being fined $50,000 for directing obscene gestures and profane language at Celtics fans during Game 1.
The series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Saturday night.
Durant and Irving were a combined one for 17 in the second half. Bruce Brown finished with 23 points and Seth Curry added 16.
The TD Garden faithful peppered Irving with boos throughout, beginning with the pregame introductions. The volume ratcheted up after tipoff with the addition of “Kyrie sucks! Kyrie sucks!” chants on each of Brooklyn’s first two possessions. The boos returned whenever he got his hands on the ball.
Boston trailed the entire first half but finally caught up to tie it at 79 on a short jumper by Daniel Theis. The Nets were able to settle in and took a 90-85 edge to the final period.
The Celtics tied it up again at 92 early in the fourth on a leaner by Jaylen Brown and took their first lead of the game with 7:48 left on a jumper by Pritchard.
It was part of 23-4 run that grew the Celtics’ lead to 108-96. The Nets went almost three minutes without a basket during the stretch.
The barrage of boos fans aimed at Irving did little to rattle Brooklyn early. The Nets jumped out to a 9-0 lead, which led to a quick Boston timeout. Bruce Brown had all nine points, part of a 12-point quarter that helped put Brooklyn in front 33-24.
The lead increased to 45-31 in the second, prompting another Celtics timeout. During the break, Marcus Smart, who injured his left thumb minutes earlier while diving on the floor after a loose ball, could be seen grimacing as trainers attended to him on the bench.
He got the thumb taped and remained in the game, scoring six straight points.
Brooklyn settled in and got its lead as high as 15 before a late flurry by Boston helped it trim the deficit to 65-55 at the half.
76ers 104, Raptors 101
TORONTO — Joel Embiid made a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Philadelphia 76ers a 104-101 victory over the Toronto Raptors and a 3-0 lead in their first-round series.
After 76ers coach Doc Rivers called timeout to save the possession as the shot clock was running down, Embiid took an inbounds pass from Danny Green and hit a turnaround shot from near the sideline before running back to his bench in celebration.
Toronto’s OG Anunoby couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.
Embiid had 33 points and 13 rebounds, helping the 76ers rally from a 17-point deficit. James Harden had 19 points and 10 assists before fouling out in the closing seconds of regulation.
Tyrese Maxey scored 19 points and Tobias Harris had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, who can wrap up the series in Game 4 on Saturday.
Anunoby scored 26 points, Gary Trent Jr. had a playoff-high 24, and Precious Achiuwa had 20 for the Raptors.
Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each had 12 points. VanVleet shot three for 13, going two for 10 from three-point range.
Philadelphia never held a lead in regulation, finally grabbing a 99-97 edge on Maxey’s shot with 3:27 left in overtime.
Anunoby’s three briefly put Toronto back on top, but Embiid’s basket with 2:36 left made it 101-100 for the Sixers.
Embiid fouled Anunoby with 26 seconds left, and the Toronto forward made the first but missed the second, knotting it at 101-all.
Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes sat for the second straight game because of the sprained left ankle that knocked him out of Game 1. Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Barnes is making progress and could return Saturday.
The 76ers, who shot at least 30 free throws in each of the first two games of the series, went 15 for 20 from the line in Game 3, with Embiid making six of nine attempts.
Trent was limited to 10 minutes of action in Game 2 because of illness, and didn’t play in the second half Monday. He played 45 minutes Wednesday, shooting nine for 19.
Ahead 75-74 through three quarters, Toronto held a 95-90 lead on Achiuwa’s basket with 2:03 left.
Maxey scored to make it a three-point game, and Anunoby was called for goaltending on Harden’s shot with 1:14 left, cutting it to 95-94. After missing at one end, VanVleet fouled Harden with 49 seconds to play, but the Sixers guard missed his first shot before tying it 95-all with his second.
Harden fouled out with 27 seconds left, sending Achiuwa to the line, but the Toronto forward missed both shots.
Philadelphia had two chances to win it in regulation, but Embiid missed a three and Harris couldn’t convert after grabbing the rebound.
The 76ers played without guard Matisse Thybulle. Philadelphia’s defensive specialist is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, making him ineligible to cross the Canadian border. Thybulle also missed an April 7 regular-season loss to the Raptors.
The Raptors hosted a postseason game north of the border for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against Golden State. The Warriors won that game, but Kevin Durant injured his Achilles tendon and the Raptors won the series in Game 6.
Bulls 114, Bucks 110
MILWAUKEE — DeMar DeRozan scored a career playoff-high 41 points and the Chicago Bulls outlasted the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 in Game 2 to tie their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Nikola Vucevic added 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Zach LaVine had 20 points as the Bulls beat the Bucks for just the second time in their last 19 meetings. The series now heads to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday.
The question facing the defending champion Bucks is whether they’ll be close to full strength when the series resumes. Bobby Portis left the game with a right eye abrasion after the first quarter and Khris Middleton exited with a sore left knee after slipping midway through the fourth quarter.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 33 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, putting him one assist from his second career playoff triple-double. Antetokounmpo increased his career postseason point total to 1,715 to overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,692) for the most in Bucks history.
Brook Lopez had 25 points for the Bucks. Middleton scored 18 and Jrue Holiday 15.
DeRozan scored eight points during a 13-0 run that began late in the third quarter and gave the Bulls a 96-80 lead with 9:47 remaining. The Bulls still led by 15 before Milwaukee rallied in the final 7 minutes.
Lopez converted a three-point play to cut Chicago’s lead to 112-109 with 56 seconds left. But after Alex Caruso and Vucevic got offensive rebounds on the Bulls’ ensuing possession, DeRozan’s driving layup made it 114-109 with 18.2 seconds remaining.
After facing an early 16-point deficit in Game 1, the Bulls started much faster this time.
The Bucks committed three turnovers in the game’s first 49 seconds and four in the first two minutes as the Bulls built an early 9-0 lead. The Bulls were ahead 29-28 at the end of a first quarter that featured six lead changes.
Chicago maintained a narrow lead before closing the second quarter on a 15-4 run to extend the margin to 65-49.
The Bulls extended the lead to 18 early in the third quarter, before the Bucks rallied with a small lineup featuring Antetokounmpo, Middleton and reserve guards Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton and Jevon Carter.
Antetokounmpo led the way as the Bucks went on a 15-2 run to cut the Bulls’ lead to three late in the third period. But the Bulls responded with 13 straight points and stayed in front the reset of the way.
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