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BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum had 29 points and an emphatic dunk to end a clinching late run and the Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks 119-106 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Derrick White added 26 points and seven rebounds, and Jaylen Brown scored 18 points. Boston outscored Atlanta 64-40 in the paint.
Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 29 points, and Trae Young had 24.
Game 3 is Friday night in Atlanta.
Down by 20, the Hawks cut it to single digits late in the third quarter.
With Atlanta trailing 74-57, Young went to the bench and sat out the final 7:07 of the period, briefly visiting the locker room.
His teammates picked it up without him, outscoring the Celtics 24-16 to pull within nine — at 90-81 — entering the fourth.
Young returned to begin the final period and scored four straight points with just over five minutes to play to make it 104-95.
But the Celtics responded with a 15-2 run — bookended by a 3-pointer and dunk by Tatum — to get it back up to 119-97 with 2:16 left.
While the Hawks brought a better shooting touch on Tuesday, the Celtics took their overall energy up a notch, repeatedly beating Atlanta down the court in transition and outhustling Hawks to loose balls.
One glaring example was in the second quarter when Brown pried the ball free as De’Andre Hunter drove by.
Malcolm Brogdon corralled it and tossed it ahead a sprinting Brown, who had split between Young and Dejounte Murray as they got caught ball watching.
After shooting themselves into a hole in Game 1, the Hawks ratcheted up their aggressiveness at the start of Game 2.
They hit eight of their first 14 shots to take an early 22-11 lead, answering coach Quin Snyder’s plea for his team not to pass up open shots because of what transpired in the opener.
The Celtics responded by picking things up on the defensive end, and during a four-plus minute stretch forced nine straight misses and five turnovers by Atlanta.
It helped Boston end the opening quarter on a 17-3 run, punctuated by a 42-foot buzzer-beater by Brogdon.
Hawks: After taking 22-11 lead in the first quarter, the Hawks were outscored 29-10 over the next 10 minutes of game action, committing six turnovers and shooting 4 of 16 from the field.
Celtics: Led 61-49 at the half. … Willliams’ missed putback at the 5:01 mark of the second quarter was his first miss of the series. He had been 10 for 10 to the point. … Outscored the Hawks 18-6 in the paint in the first quarter.
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