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Celtics rally to beat Nets for 2-0 lead

BOSTON (AP) – Celtics fans got under Kyrie Irving’s skin in the opening game of their first-round matchup with the Nets.

It was Boston’s defence that kept him – and Kevin Durant – off balance in Game 2.

Jaylen Brown scored 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics rallied from 17 points down to beat Brooklyn 114-107 yesterday and take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Jayson Tatum added 19 points for Boston, which held Durant without a basket in the second half. Al Horford had 16 points, Daniel Theis scored 15 and Payton Pritchard had eight of his 10 in the final period.

“This was like an old-fashioned. old-school playoff game,” Tatum said. “You just have to grind it out. That’s what we did… we just just stuck with it. Proud of the guys and how we kept responding all game.”

Durant finished with 27 points but struggled from the field for the second straight game, shooting four of 17. Irving had just 10 points on four-of-13 shooting a day after being fined USD50,000 for directing obscene gestures and profane language at Celtics fans during Game 1.

Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant vies for the ball with Boston Celtics’ Al Horford and Jayson Tatum. PHOTO: AP

The series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3 tomorrow night.

“They’re doing a good job trying to cut off my scoring, limit my shot making,” Durant said.

“It’s on me to figure it out.”

Durant and Irving were limited to a combined one for 17 in the second half. Bruce Brown finished with 23 points and Seth Curry added 16.

“They took the lead and they never looked back in that fourth quarter,” Irving said. “We don’t really have time to be disappointed, to hold our heads. This is part of playoff basketball.”

Coach Ime Udoka said the approach to Durant has been to get into his air space as much as possible.

“I think we did that,” Udoka said. “We want to make him work defensively and offensively have bodies on him the whole time and try to wear him down.”

The TD Garden faithful peppered Irving with boos throughout, beginning with the pre-game introductions. The volume ratcheted up after tipoff with chants on each of Brooklyn’s first two possessions. The boos returned whenever he got his hands on the ball.

Boston trailed the entire first half but finally caught up to tie it at 79 on a short jumper by Theis. The Nets were able to settle in and took a 90-85 edge to the final period.

The Celtics tied it up again at 92 early in the fourth on a leaner by Jaylen Brown and took their first lead of the game with 7:48 left on a jumper by Pritchard.

It was part of 23-4 run that grew the Celtics’ lead to 108-96. The Nets went almost three minutes without a basket during the stretch.

“I think our intensity dropped a little bit in the second half. We also didn’t convert,” Nets coach Steve Nash said.

“We had opportunities, we didn’t convert.”

Bruce Brown said the Celtics overwhelmed them defensively.

“We just weren’t scoring at the other end,” he said. “I just think our physicality took a step down in the second half.”