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

Jaylen Brown dunks and scores against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during game three of the 2022 NBA Finals. PHOTO: REUTERS

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

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

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.

Al Horford collected 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Boston, who shot 48.3 per cent from the floor to improve to 7-0 after a loss in the playoffs.

Golden State star Stephen Curry overcame early foul trouble to make six three-pointers and finish with 31 points. He remained in the game with 4min 7sec to play in the fourth quarter despite appearing to injure his left leg while vying for a loose ball.

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.

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

Golden State, who outscored Boston by a 73-38 margin in the third quarter 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 three-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 three-point range - in the first quarter.

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