BOSTON — Jayson Tatum knew what was coming and waited for his moment.
His team leading by 10 with less than three minutes to play, he hawked Atlanta’s Trae Young as he dribbled on the right wing and tried to lead Tatum into a screen.
But the Celtics All-Star brushed it off and stretched to swat Young’s attempt at a step-back 3-pointer. The loose ball was scooped up by Derrick White and tossed ahead to a streaking Tatum for an one-handed dunk.
The play ended a clinching late run and was the final basket of the night for Tatum and Boston beat Atlanta 119-106 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
While Tatum had the exclamation point and finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds, he said the night belonged to White. The defensive-minded guard contributed all over the court, pouring 26 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
““We’re so much more of a dynamic team when D-White is asserting himself and being aggressive and not being passive.” Tatum said. These last two games (White) being aggressive, making the right play, attacking the rim and not necessarily waiting makes us that much more of a better team.”
Jaylen Brown added 18 points. Boston outscored Atlanta 64-40 in the paint. Game 3 is Friday night in Atlanta.
“(Tatum and Brown) get a lot of attention. It just opens up the court for myself,” White said. “When the opportunity is there I just have to attack and do what I do.”
Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 29 points. Young had 24, but shot 9 of 22 from the field and 2 of 8 from beyond the arc. He also had five turnovers, bringing his total to 11 for the series.
“I can be better,” Young said. “I didn’t shoot the ball really well. I had some turnovers where I was just driving and it just left my hands. But I’m going to be better at home.”
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 Tatum’s dunk — 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.
CAVALIERS 107, KNICKS 90: Darius Garland scored 32 points, 26 while setting an aggressive tone for Cleveland in the first half, and the Cavaliers evened their Eastern Conference playoff series against New York by winning at home.
Garland scored 15 points in the second quarter, when Cleveland tightened down defensively and dominated New York, forcing nine turnovers on the way to opening a 20-point halftime lead. The Cavs pushed their lead to 29 in the fourth.
Cleveland’s blowout ended with a hard foul.
New York was still down 23 and playing its starters when Julius Randle was hit in the air by Cavs center Jarrett Allen on a dunk with 2:22 left. Randle fell hard to the floor, and after getting up, exchanged words with several Cavs players and coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
SUNS 123, CLIPPERS 109: Devin Booker scored 38 points, Kevin Durant had 25 and host Phoenix beat Los Angeles to tie their Western Conference first-round series.
The Suns put together a gritty effort after a disappointing loss in Game 1. Their shots weren’t falling for much of the first half and they fell into a 12-point hole midway through the second quarter.
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