Celtics claw back against Nets behind Jayson Tatum's 50 points; Trae Young stars for Hawks over Knicks: NBA playoffs

Doncic stars once again for Mavericks but Clippers win Game Three to get back into series

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket while guarded by James Harden and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets. AFP
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket while guarded by James Harden and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets. AFP

Jayson Tatum busted out of a mini-slump, exploding for 50 points on Friday as the Boston Celtics clawed their way back into their Eastern Conference first-round series with a 125-119 win over the Brooklyn Nets in the third game.

Tatum, who had just 31 points on nine-of-32 shooting in the first two games of the series, shot a blistering 16-of-30 from the floor and drained five three-pointers as the Celtics cut the Nets's series lead to 2-1.

Tatum also scored 50 points in a win over Washington in a play-in game, making it the second time this month he has put the team on his back for a much-needed post-season win.

"I just tried to be better," Tatum said. "I had a tough two games so I tried to redeem myself and do anything I can to win."

The Celtics' win over the Nets played out in front of a crowd of 4,700 at the Boston Garden.

"It felt good to finally play a playoff game at TD Garden and it is great being back in front of our fans," Tatum said.

Game 4 is on Sunday in Boston.

Marcus Smart scored 22 points and Tristan Thompson finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds in the win.

James Harden delivered 41 points and 10 assists while Kevin Durant finished with 39 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who were trying to take a 3-0 series lead for the first time since their first-round sweep of the New York Knicks in 2004.

Kyrie Irving was playing in front of Boston fans for the first time since leaving the Celtics under a cloud of controversy after the 2018-19 season.

He was showered with boos from Celtic faithful every time he touched the ball.

Irving scored just two points in the first half to tie a career low in a playoff game. He finished with 16 points on six-of-17 shooting.

The Celtics led 33-32 at the end of the first and 61-57 at the half, then held on down the stretch as Tatum nailed a clutch pull-up jumper with 40 seconds left to make it 122-115.

"It's just one of those nights," Tatum said. "A tough shooting night the first game and I didn't get to play much the last game because I got poked in the eye."

His jumper came just 18 seconds after Irving had sunk two free throws to cut the Boston lead to five points.

Tatum joined John Havlicek, Isaiah Thomas, Ray Allen, Sam Jones and Bob Cousy as Celtics with 50 points in a playoff game.

"He was just locked in mentally," teammate Smart said. "We're going up against a juggernaut of a team."

Young leads Hawks to Game 3 win

Trae Young scored 21 points and had 14 assists as the Atlanta Hawks beat the New York Knicks 105-94 to grab a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Hawks shot a sizzling 59 per cent from the three-point line and took command with a 22-5 burst to close out the second quarter.

Game 4 is in Atlanta on Sunday.

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 15 points, John Collins added 14, Clint Capela finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Former Knick Danilo Gallinari sank all four of his three-point attempts to finish with 12 points in the win.

Derrick Rose shot 13 of 21 from the floor and scored 11 of his 30 points in the first quarter for the Knicks. Julius Randle finished with 14 points in the loss.

Clippers back in the series

Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a first-half deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 118-108 in Game 3 of their playoff series.

After losing both games in LA, the fourth-seeded Clippers were in desperate need of a win to claw their way back.

Leonard's team-high tally was supported by 29 points from Paul George while Reggie Jackson (16) and Marcus Morris (15) also reached double figures.

Luka Doncic, whose brilliance led the Mavericks to victory in the first two games, was again nearly unstoppable as the Slovenian produced a game-high 44 points, despite appearing to struggle with a shoulder injury for the second half.

However, Doncic found support from his teammates limited. Maxi Kleber (14) and Tim Hardaway Jr (12) were the only other Dallas players to hit double figures, while Kristaps Porzingis was able to produce just nine points.

Updated: May 29, 2021 09:17 PM

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