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Jayson Tatum scores 50 as Boston Celtics earn 7th seed

BOSTON Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans (42) during the first half at TD Garden. — REUTERS

JAYSON Tatum scored 23 of his 50 points in the third quarter and the Boston Celtics punched their playoff ticket with a 118-100 victory over the Washington Wizards in an NBA play-in contest on Tuesday night.

Kemba Walker added 29 points as Boston, which had lost five of its final six regular-season games, claimed the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference bracket. The Celtics will meet the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets in a first-round matchup.

Washington will have one more chance to make the postseason when it hosts the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night. The winner of that contest will land the No. 8 seed and face the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

Bradley Beal scored 22 points while dealing with a hamstring injury for the Wizards. Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists but was just 6-of-18 shooting. Ish Smith recorded 17 points and eight rebounds for Washington.

Tristan Thompson added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, which shot 39.6 percent, including 15 of 45 from 3-point range. Walker hit 6 of 14 from long distance and Tatum made 5 of 12.

Daniel Gafford scored 12 points for the Wizards, who made 43.5 percent of their shots but were just 3 of 21 from behind the arc.

Washington, which went 17-6 to finish the season, led 56-55 in the opening minute of the third quarter before the Celtics exploded with 14 straight points as part of a 19-2 burst.

Walker began the spurt with three consecutive 3-pointers and Tatum followed with a 16-footer and a 3-pointer to give Boston a 69-56 lead with 8:09 left.

Gafford scored on a tip-in to interrupt the run, but Tatum answered with a dunk and a 3-pointer as the Celtics took a 74-58 advantage with 7:13 remaining in the quarter.

Tatum knocked down a 22-footer with 28.1 seconds left to cap his huge quarter and give Boston a 90-80 lead entering the final stanza.

Washington trailed by seven early in the fourth quarter, but Boston answered with a 15-4 spurt. Tatum capped the run with a 3-pointer to make it 106-88 with 5:32 left. Just 66 seconds later, Tatum hit two free throws to reach the 50-point mark and boost the lead to 110-90.

Walker hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 116-94 with 2:36 left. — Reuters

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