LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Al Horford scored 30 points as the Boston Celtics produced a devastating late scoring burst to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-108 and tie their best-of-seven series at 2-2 on Monday (May 9).
The defending champion Bucks looked to be heading towards a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final series after stretching into an 11-point lead late in the third quarter, with Giannis Antetokounmpo in commanding form.
But a devastating fourth quarter shooting display from the Celtics - with Horford scoring 16 points as Boston outscored Milwaukee 43-28 - transformed the contest as the Celtics head home to Boston for game five on Wednesday.
Horford's total was a career-high in playoff games, and gives the Celtics a crucial advantage with two of the three remaining games in the series taking place in Boston.
Horford received scoring support from Jayson Tatum, who added 30 points, while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart both finished with 18 points apiece.
Derrick White added 11 points from the bench as five Celtics players finished in double figures to silence Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum crowd.
"Our backs were against the wall. We needed to respond and that's what we did," Horford said afterwards.
"We didn't quit, we just kept pushing," the 35-year-old five-time All-Star added.
"Playoffs is hard. You have to grind and get down to it. Our backs were against the wall tonight and we just needed to find a way."
Antetokounmpo led the scoring for Milwaukee with 34 points in a losing effort, with 18 rebounds and five assists while Brook Lopez finished with 17 points.
Elsewhere, Stephen Curry scored 32 points as the Golden State Warriors survived a scare to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 101-98 and move to the brink of the Western Conference play-off Finals.
Curry poured in 18 points in the final quarter as an out-of-sorts Warriors reeled in the Grizzlies with less than a minute remaining to close out victory and take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Memphis, who suffered a 142-112 mauling in game three on Saturday, had looked poised to punish one of the worst Golden State offensive displays in years to seize victory at San Francisco’s Chase Center.
But after leading from the opening quarter until the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies, without the injured Ja Morant, were unable to hold on.
And as Memphis tightened down the stretch, it was Curry who kept his cool to reel off a string of free throws that allowed Golden State to edge home.