NBA: Celtics bounce back from consecutive losses, beat Heat

Boston Celtics recovers from back-to-back losses to beat Miami Heat 117-106 in Game Three of the Eastern Conference finals.

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) attempts a shot during the second half of Game Three of Eastern Conference finals on Saturday, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.   -  AP

Jaylen Brown scored 26 points, Jayson Tatum had 25 and 14 rebounds and Boston Celtics recovered from back-to-back tough losses to beat Miami Heat 117-106 in Game Three of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night near Orlando.

Kemba Walker added 21 points and Marcus Smart 20 as the Celtics avoided falling behind 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. Boston shot 48.2 percent (41 of 85) as a team, outscoring Miami 60-36 in the paint. Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and Tyler Herro scored 22 to lead six players in double figures for the Heat, who lost for just the second time in their 12th playoff game. Jimmy Butler had 17 points.

Game 4 will take place on Wednesday.

Return of Gordon Hayward

In the wake of falling behind 2-0 in the series after Thursday's defeat, Celtics players reportedly aired their frustrations in a raucous locker room scene. The team responded, boosted further by the return of Gordon Hayward (six points in 31 minutes) from an ankle injury that sidelined him since August 17.

Boston never trailed, carrying a 13-point advantage into the second half for the second straight game. But unlike in Game 2, when they were outscored 37-17 in the third quarter, the Celtics maintained control and entered the fourth up 89-74.

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Despite Boston leading by as much as 20 in the final period, Miami got within seven, 109-102, after Duncan Robinson nailed a 3-pointer and hit 1 of 2 at the line following a Brown flagrant foul with 1:03 left. Adebayo trimmed the deficit to five with 55.9 seconds to go, but Smart hit eight free throws as the Celtics held on.

Boston was up 31-22 after one and grew its lead to 12, 36-24, on a Walker 3-pointer with 10:14 left in the first half. Miami responded with a 13-4 run to get within three, Herro nailing a trio of treys during the stretch.

The Heat were back within three, 51-48, with 3:22 remaining, but the Celtics ended the quarter on an 12-2 spurt to lead 63-50 at the break.

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