Tagged in: turnovers

Brown scores 30, Celtics beat Bucks 109-86 to even series

There was a moment during the Celtics’ series-opening loss to the Bucks when it seemed as if Jaylen Brown would never make a shot.

Early in Game 2, it felt like he might not miss.

Brown scored 25 of his 30 points in the first half, and Boston beat Milwaukee 109-86 on Tuesday night to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.

“It’s the playoffs. That’s it,” Brown said. “We can’t let one game kind of dictate how this series goes. We wanted to be aggressive from the gate.”

Brown shook off a dismal shooting night in Game 1, going 9 for 10 in the first half, including 5 for 5 from the 3-point line. Jayson Tatum added 19 points and eight assists. Grant Williams concluded with 21 points. Al Horford had 14 points and 11 rebounds. “We wanted to come and play like our season was on the line and we did,” Brown said.

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The series doesn’t resume until Game 3 on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Boston finished 20 of 43 from beyond the arc and scored 24 points off 16 Milwaukee turnovers.

“We wanted to match their physicality and punch back tonight,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “A big message was show them who we are.”

They did that.

The Celtics played without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart after he was ruled out before the game with a bruised right thigh he sustained in Game 1. 

Derrick White took his place in the starting lineup, making his first start in a playoff game since 2019 when he was with San Antonio.

“The ship’s got to keep going. Everybody got to do a little bit more,” Tatum said.

Even without Smart, the Celtics clamped down on Giannis Antetokounmpo after his triple-double in the series opener, limiting him to 28 points — mostly in the third quarter — nine rebounds and seven assists. Jrue Holiday added 19 points and seven assists. Bobby Portis chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds.

Antetokounmpo said the Celtics are doing a lot to make it tough for him inside.

“Strong bodies, being active, being physical —- that’s pretty much it,” he said. “It’s gotten tougher to find your teammates.”

With Smart watching in street clothes from the bench, the Celtics scored the game’s first seven points on their way to taking an 18-3 lead and forcing a quick timeout by the Bucks.

Boston scored from a variety of different spots on the court during the run – attacking both at the rim and inside the paint. It also included 12 points from the 3-point line, where the Celtics struggled for most of Game 1.

“It’s not Wilt Chamberlain down there (in the paint),” Udoka said. “We can get downhill and attack.”

Antetokounmpo missed his first six shots before ultimately getting on the scoreboard via a dunk with less than a minute left in the opening period.

It didn’t stop Boston from banking a 32-21 lead heading into the second quarter, boosted by 17 points from Brown –a career playoff-high for a quarter.

The Celtics continued to share and kept Milwaukee’s defense in chase mode, eventually taking a 65-40 edge into the half.

The Bucks cut into what had been a 26-point Celtics lead in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo keyed the charge with 18 points in the period. A 10-0 Milwaukee run, aided by a more than five-minute Celtics scoring drought, trimmed Boston’s lead to 72-56 late in the third quarter.

Milwaukee kept nibbling away and got it down it to 94-82 on a pair of free throws by Antetokounmpo. But Tatum made a 3-pointer and Boston pulled away again.

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LeBron James, Anthony Davis reassure Russell Westbrook after his struggles as Los Angeles Lakers drop NBA opener

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook failed their first real test together, a 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on opening night, but they found some common ground.

All three of them have now lost in their Lakers debuts: James versus the Portland Trail Blazers in 2018, Davis versus the LA Clippers in 2019 and Westbrook versus the Warriors on Tuesday.

While James (34 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Davis (33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) outperformed Westbrook, who had a team-worst plus/minus of minus-23 in 35 minutes and finished with eight points on 4-for-13 shooting and four turnovers, their bigger impact might have come in the postgame locker room, lifting up their new teammate.

“I told Russ to go home and watch a comedy,” James said. “Do something that can put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.'” It was similar to a pep talk James gave to Davis when their first match together in Los Angeles also didn’t go their way.

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“My first time, I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, ‘You’re fine, this is Game 1,'” Davis recalled. “He’s laughing. He’s joking on the phone. And I’m like, ‘Why am I upset then?’ And I kind of just went with the flow. And it’s the same thing with Russ. And I told him the same thing. ‘I’m the same way you were.’ We said some things to him, and he smiled and things like that, so I expect him to be better in the game Friday.”

If Westbrook broke out a grin in the locker room, it was gone by the time he reached the media room for his postgame interviews.

“We talked” was all Westbrook would say about the conversation with Davis and James.

His entire media session lasted less than three minutes as he kept his answers as brief as possible.

James, who has often stated that experience is the greatest teacher, was hopeful that Westbrook would glean some perspective from the ordeal.

“I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself,” James said. “That was the one thing that I hoped to get through to him, don’t be so hard on himself. Go home and you’re going to see three babies that he has that might be asleep, but they’ll put a smile on his face. He has a beautiful wife and family. So at the end of the day, you go home and you’re really like, ‘OK, that was not that bad. It’s really not that bad.'”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged the tricky spot Westbrook finds himself in.

“Him more than anybody, it’s going to be an adjustment period,” Vogel stated. “He’s coming into our culture, our system. He’s the new guy, and he’s got to find his way. It’s difficult, when you’re used to being the guy who has the ball most nights, to be able to play off of others like Bron and AD. So it’s just a little bit different for him. He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be an adjustment period.”

While Westbrook looks to grow within the group, James is urging him to be the player he was before he came to Los Angeles — an uber-confident nine-time All-Star, Olympian and former league MVP.

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