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SPORTS

Derrick White Scores 38, Celtics Top Heat 102-88 to Take a 3-1 East Playoff Series Lead

MIAMI (AP) — The good news for the Miami Heat is that the Boston Celtics might not be back in South Florida for a few months.

And that’s also the bad news for the Heat.

Boston now has full control of this Eastern Conference series, with Derrick White scoring a career-high 38 points on Monday night and leading the top-seeded Celtics past the eighth-seeded Heat 102-88 to take a 3-1 lead in their opening-round NBA playoff series.

“I made a couple shots early,” said White, who was 15 of 26 from the field and 8 of 15 from 3-point range. “That always helps. Once you make a couple, the basket looks huge.”

The Celtics won at Miami for the sixth straight time and improved to 14-3 in their last 17 games on the Heat’s home floor. But it was a costly win, with Kristaps Porzingis going down in the first half with what the team said was a right calf injury. He left the arena in a walking boot, often used as a precaution.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said he had not gotten a postgame update on Porzingis’ condition.

“I didn’t see what happened,” Mazzulla said.

Jayson Tatum added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who got 17 points from Jaylen Brown and 11 from Jrue Holiday.

“We had to keep fighting,” Tatum said, “and play desperate in a way.”

Bam Adebayo finished with 25 points, 17 rebounds and five assists for Miami, which had a sellout crowd — including Lionel Messi — but played again without injured starters Jimmy Butler (knee) and Terry Rozier (neck). The Heat managed only 84 points in Game 3 and struggled again on offense in Game 4.

Tyler Herro scored 19 points and Caleb Martin had 18 for the eighth-seeded Heat. Miami lost rookie starter Jaime Jaquez Jr. in the second half with leg tightness; he will be evaluated Tuesday.

“Offensively, we struggled again,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We had some decent looks early on, weren’t able to knock those down, and Derrick White was very good tonight — obviously. … He was just very efficient, very good.”

The Celtics can advance to the second round on Wednesday when they host Game 5. The Boston-Miami winner will meet the Cleveland-Orlando winner in the East semifinals; that Cavaliers-Magic series won’t end until at least Friday.

“We’re going into the lion’s den,” Adebayo said. “Everybody knows what’s at stake. It’s 3-1.”

But the Celtics now have an injury concern, with Porzingis lifting his jersey over his face in exasperation after getting hurt late in the first half.

“Worried,” said Celtics center Al Horford, who started after halftime in Porzingis’ place. “Just concerned. … Definitely concerning for me. He’s in good spirits, but we don’t know what it’s going to be. I’m just hoping that it’s nothing serious and he can get back to us quick.”

With 5:04 left, there was some more drama after Tatum tried to shoot a 3-pointer moments after a foul was called. Adebayo defended the dead-ball play, and Tatum rolled his left ankle after Adebayo stepped into his landing area. Referees called a flagrant-1 on Adebayo, and a technical on Horford for reacting.

Tatum remained in the game.

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Mazzulla said.

Adebayo didn’t want to discuss the explanation he got as to why what he did merited a flagrant-foul designation. “We’re just going to move on from that,” he said.

The good news for Boston: History says this series is just about over.

This is the 29th time a Boston team has taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series. The Celtics won all 28 of the previous series, including seven times in the NBA Finals and a first-round series against Miami in 2010 — the last games the Heat played before luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to South Florida and forming a superteam around Dwyane Wade.

Miami just couldn’t keep up in this one. White had 16 points in the first quarter, when the Celtics built a 34-24 lead. And no matter what the Heat did on defense, the offense couldn’t make up any gaps.

Consider: The Celtics had 34 points after 12 minutes, and it took the Heat almost 23 minutes — nearly the entire first half — to hit the 34-point mark. Miami had only 59 points through three quarters, matching a season low set in Game 1 of this series at Boston.

“I know in my heart we have a game that’s there,” Spoelstra said. “It’s just a matter of the ball going in a few more times, and all of a sudden it ignites.”

___
By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

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