ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young scored 32 points in his best game of the playoffs and the Atlanta Hawks gave themselves a glimmer of hope, beating the Boston Celtics 130-122 Friday night to close the gap to 2-1 in the opening-round series.
Young hit a step-back 3-pointer from the corner with 2:21 left and knocked down another huge basket on a floater in the lane with 45 seconds remaining after Jaylen Brown missed a 3-pointer that would’ve tied it for the Celtics.
The seventh-seeded Hawks will try to even the series against the second-seeded Celtics in Game 4 on Sunday night at State Farm Arena.
Jayson Tatum scored 29 points to lead Boston, which was barely challenged in the first two games of the series.
Young was under fire after making just 14 of 40 shots in Beantown. He was much better in Game 3, connecting on 12 of 22 attempts and doling out nine assists.
Dejounte Murray had another big game for the Hawks, scoring 25 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining that helped Atlanta protect a puny lead.
Unlike the first two games in Boston, where the Celtics pushed out to big leads and cruised to a pair of 13-point victories, the Hawks finally put up a fight.
With Derrick White forced to the bench in the early going with two quick fouls, the Hawks took advantage of a chink in the Boston defense to get things rolling. Atlanta knocked down 30 of 46 shots (65.2%) in the first half.
Pumped up by a standing-room-only crowd, the Hawks built a 14-point lead — their biggest of the series — late in the first half.
But the Celtics responded with eight straight points and went to the locker room down 74-67.
It was Atlanta’s first victory over Boston this season. The Hawks dropped all three regular-season meetings.
Celtics: White played only 9:58 in the first half after being whistled for a pair of fouls before the game was five minutes old. … Marcus Smart landed hard on his lower back with about 2 1/2 minutes left, but stayed in the game, He finished with 24 points.
Hawks: Bogdan Bogdanovic took a shot to the face on Malcolm Brogdan’s lay-in early in the fourth quarter. Bogdanovic kneeled over in the pain and was subbed out during a timeout. … Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins felt ill before the game and did not serve as an analyst on the Hawks regional telecast. Brian Oliver took Wilkins’ usual spot alongside play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.
The Hawks still face long odds. They are 0-26 in playoff series over the franchise’s 74-season history when losing the first two games.