Jaylen Brown scored 27 points, Jayson Tatum added 26 and the Boston Celtics beat back another third-quarter onslaught by the Golden State Warriors 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 lead a defensive effort that held the Warriors to 11 points in the fourth quarter,
Stephen 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. It was similar to a play during the regular season in which Smart dove into Curry’s legs while chasing a loose ball.
Klay Thompson broke out of a finals slump and finished with 25 points and five 3s. But the Warriors’ shooting couldn’t save them on a night the more athletic Celtics outmuscled them for a 47-31 rebounding advantage, Game 4 is Friday in Boston.
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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 TD Garden crowd that jeered Draymond 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 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. The Celtics got the lead back up to 102-91 in the fourth and 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. The run included a pair of missed free throws by Boston, along with a missed layup and turnover.
Boston flurried at the end of the half to take a 68-56 lead into halftime.
Warriors: Shot 8 of 23 in the first period. … Were outscored 52-26 in the paint.
Celtics: Shot 57% in the first half (27 of 47. Including 8 of 18 from 3. … 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.
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.
A foul was called on Williams, but he and Green had a short face-off before being quickly separated by officials.
In third quarter, Green wound up on the ground fighting for a loose ball with Brown. This time Green was called for the foul.
The Celtics hit three of their first four shots and scored 10 straight points to jump out to 10-2 lead.
Boston’s lead grew to 18-9 when a fast break ended with Curry picking up his second foul trying to contest Smart’s layup with 5:44 left in the quarter.
Curry stayed in the game and Golden State switched to zone, but it did little to slow Boston, which widened its advantage as high as 15 points. The Celtics took a 33-22 lead into the second period.