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Irving leads Celtics fightback, Bucks romp


By Agence France-Presse

Kyrie Irving scored 37 points as the Boston Celtics staged a fourth quarter comeback to defeat the Indiana Pacers 99-91 and take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference NBA playoff series on Wednesday.

The Pacers appeared to be closing in on a series-levelling victory after taking an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But some superb shot-making from Irving and a 26-point display from Jayson Tatum helped Boston outscore the Pacers by 31-12 in the final quarter to seal a roller-coaster win at the Celtics’ TD Garden home.

The win puts the Celtics firmly in control of the best-of-seven series as the two sides head to Indianapolis for game three on Friday.

Irving warned his Celtics team-mates against complacency over the remainder of the series following Wednesday’s win.

“Tonight gives us confidence but anything can happen on the road,” Irving said. “We’ve got to go to Indiana, a tough place to play, and be ready for whatever. It’s going to be a war out there. We understand the type of team we’re playing against. It’s a series for a reason.”

The 27-year-old point guard said the Celtics never-say-die approach had helped them transform Wednesday’s game into a win.

“It’s just staying resilient, understanding that we’re never out of this game,” Irving said. “It’s the playoffs, anything can happen.

“I tell the guys all the time, we’ve got to stay communicative and do the little things in order to get the win.”

Irving finished with six rebounds and seven assists in addition to his points tally. Gordon Hayward had 13 points and five rebounds off the bench as the Celtics punished a disastrous Pacers display in the final period.

The Pacers shot only four of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter, and coughed up two vital turnovers in the final 15 seconds to gift Boston victory.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the scoring with 23 points for Indiana, with Thaddeus Young (15 points), Darren Collison (13) and Tyreke Evans (13) the other Pacers players to make double figures.

Elsewhere Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks surged into a 2-0 lead in their series against the Detroit Pistons with a crushing 120-99 win in game two.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led another dominant display from Milwaukee, who saw four players go into double digits against an overpowered Pistons line-up.

Greek star Antetokounmpo anchored the Bucks win with 26 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

Eric Bledsoe added 27 points while Khris Middleton finished with 24 points. Pat Connaughton scored 18 off the bench.

Detroit were effectively shut down, with Luke Kennard top-scoring with 19 points.