Tatum’s layup at buzzer gives Celtics 115-114 win over Nets


Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) dives the ball as Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) looks on in the first half of Game 1 of an Eastern Conference First Round playoff series NBA basketball on Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)


Jayson Tatum made a layup at the buzzer on a pass from Marcus Smart to give the Boston Celtics a dramatic 115-114 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday.

Tatum scored 16 of his 31 points in the second half, the last two after a poised possession from Boston in the frantic final seconds. Jaylen Brown dribbled through the middle and fed the ball to Smart, who tossed it into a cutting Tatum, who turned and dropped into his lay-up just before time expired.

Brown added 23 points. Al Horford had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Smart finished with 20 points, including four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving finished with 39 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. But the Celtics forced the ball out of his hands the last time Brooklyn had it and Kevin Durant missed a jumper with a one-point lead that established final possession for the Celtics.

Durant added 23 points but only shot 9 of 24.

Boston charged at halftime with a 23-8 run to open an 82-69 lead, sparked by Smart’s dead-eye shot from beyond the arc.

The Celtics also appeared to tweak their approach to keeping Durant in the half court, facing him and sending help over the top to limit his driving ability.

Durant and Irving always found ways to score sometimes, but they had to expend increased energy to succeed on their attempts.

It didn’t last.

With Boston leading early in the fourth quarter, Irving put Brooklyn back in the game with two straight 3-pointers and a layup to cut Boston’s advantage to 98-97 with just over 9 minutes left. Then, after an empty trip from Boston that saw Brown and Horford fail to convert from close range, Durant calmly drained a 3 at the other end to put the Nets ahead.

Brooklyn had increased its lead to 107-102 when Durant was long with a jumper. Brown found space on the Celtics’ next possession and connected on a 3 from the wing. The Nets returned it on an offensive foul on Durant. Smart slipped under Irving on Boston’s insurance trip and tied it with a layup.

The score was tied again at 109 with less than 2 minutes left when Durant got a friendly rebound off a jumper to put Brooklyn back in place. Horford’s follow-up shot tied it again. But Irving was good at depth next time on the floor, giving the Nets a 114-111 cushion.

Brown tied it coming out of a timeout with 38 seconds left.

On his last trip to face his former Boston teammates, Irving received the loudest taunts during pregame introductions and was booed every time he touched the ball the rest of the way.

Fans also looked down on Bruce Brown, who made headlines last week after suggesting Celtics big men Horford and Daniel Theis could be easy to attack inside without injured center Robert Williams III available to defend. the rim.

Horford played the first 12 minutes as if on a one-man mission to erase that notion.

Boston came in with the best defensive rating in the league since the All-Star break and applied early pressure on Durant. He attempted to establish himself at the position in the first quarter, but the Celtics attacked him with defenders from the back, stripping him three times.

Brooklyn finished with seven turnovers for the quarter, but that only translated into a 29-28 lead for Boston.

Horford was active throughout, going 3 for 4 from the field with 10 points, two rebounds and a steal.

Boston had to adjust early in the second quarter after Theis committed his third foul. But things stabilized when Drummond was called for his fourth foul with 4:58 left in the period.

The Celtics immediately went on a 9-2 run before the Nets recovered to tie the game at 61 at halftime.


Nets: Brooklyn finished with 16 turnovers. … Durant and Irving shot a combined 1 for 8 from the field in the first quarter.

Celtics: Outscored the Nets 56-32 in the paint. … Williams cheered from the bench in street clothes. … New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his son, Jonathan Kraft, sat courtside.


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Lynn A. Saleh