BOSTON (CBS SF) — Jaylen Brown scored 27 points, Jason Tatum added 26 to lead the Boston Celtics to a 116-100 NBA Finals Game 3 victory Wednesday night over the Golden State Warriors.
Marcus Smart added 24 points as the Celtics took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 scheduled for Friday night in Boston.
“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.”
After trailing by double digits for much of the first half, the Warriors climbed back into the game in the third quarter behind the “Splash Brothers” — Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.
On the strength of a 7-point possession with 4:35 to go in the quarter, Golden State pulled to within a point at 83-82 and then took their first lead since the opening minute of the game on a Curry 3-pointer.
Curry scored 15 in the quarter, Thompson added 10 points as the Warriors outscored Boston 33-25 in the stanza but still trailed 93-89 heading into the fourth quarter.
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.”
The Warriors turned the ball over six times in the fourth quarter as the Celtics turned up their intensity on the defensive end to ice the game.
Curry ended up with 31 points, but appeared to have suffered an injury scrambling for a loose ball midway through the fourth quarter.
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.
“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 blocks.
“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,”
After collapsing in the face of the Warriors intensity in their Game 2 loss, Boston came out with a purpose from the opening tip. They shot 57.4% percent from the field and outrebounded Golden State 24-14 in the first half.
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.
For as much as they struggled on the defensive end, the Warriors offense fueled by Thompson’s 15 points, Curry’s 14 and Andrew Wiggins 13 points kept them in striking distance including a 37 second outburst in which they scored 8 points.
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