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Boston Celtics pull away from Warriors for 2-1 edge in Finals

BOSTON CELTICS forward Jayson Tatum (0) attempts a layup against Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins (22) in the first half during Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden. — REUTERS

JAYLEN Brown scored 17 of his 27 points in the first quarter and Jayson Tatum finished with 26 points to lift the host Celtics to a 116-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Game 3 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.

The Celtics grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 set for Friday in Boston.

“My message to the team was, ‘We’ve done this after losses. It’s time to do it after wins,’” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said after his team improved to 7-0 after a loss in the playoffs.

Tatum had nine assists and Brown added five to go along with nine rebounds. Boston’s Marcus Smart finished with 24 points on Wednesday after mustering just two in the Celtics’ 107-88 loss in Game 2 on Sunday.

“That left a bad taste in our mouth, coming out of Game 2 hearing and knowing that we got beat up,” Smart said on the NBA TV. “For us, it’s like anybody else. If you’re in a fight with a bully, you gotta keep going and you gotta stand up.

“…We got the Golden State Warriors who have done this before multiple times who understand what it takes to be here. They want to see what you got. They punched us in our mouths in Game 2, and we responded.”

Al Horford collected 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Boston, which held a 47-31 advantage in total rebounds — including 15-6 on the offensive glass.

Golden State star Stephen Curry overcame early foul trouble to make six 3-pointers and finish with 31 points. Curry remained in the game with 4:07 to play in the fourth quarter despite appearing to injure his left leg while vying for a loose ball.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Curry was removed from the game given his team’s 14-point deficit with 2:19 to play.

“We weren’t going to catch up,” Kerr said. “We’ll know more (on his status) tomorrow.”

Klay Thompson had 25 points and Andrew Wiggins added 18 for the Warriors, who benefited from their third straight strong third quarter in the series to trim their deficit to four points entering the fourth.

Draymond Green, who was roundly jeered by the crowd, finished with just two points and four rebounds.

Green used an expletive to describe his own performance before adding, “I was soft. That’s what was most disappointing to me, for us.”

Tatum made two foul shots, a long jumper and two driving layups to start the fourth quarter and stake Boston to a 107-96 lead with 5:53 to play. Smart sank a corner 3-pointer and made a bank shot to give the Celtics a 114-100 lead with 2:19 remaining.

Golden State, which outscored Boston by a combined 73-38 margin in the third quarters of Games 1 and 2, hoped for similar domination on Wednesday after entering the period with a 12-point deficit. Curry drained back-to-back 3-pointers and made two more to give the Warriors an 83-82 lead before Smart answered from beyond the arc on the next possession.

Brown responded from a sluggish 5-for-17 shooting performance on Sunday with an aggressive start on Wednesday. He made six of nine shots — including three of four from 3-point range — in the first quarter. — Reuters

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