Boston Celtics

May 7, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) shoos against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the third quarter during game three of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford saved the season with a 16-point fourth quarter eruption that vaulted the Boston Celtics past the Milwaukee Bucks, 116-108, on Monday night to even their best-of-seven second round playoff series at two games apiece headed back to Boston.

The veteran tallied 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting (5-of-8 from downtown) in the contest. His outburst freed Jayson Tatum (30 points) after three quarters of relentless Milwaukee pressure, as the Celtics outscored the Bucks 43-28 in the final 12 minutes to get the crucial win.

The Green made their charge with Jaylen Brown (five fouls) stapled to the bench. The C’s had a 7-0 run (two buckets for Horford – including an emphatic dunk) at the start of the fourth to tie it at 80. A 14-2 sprint (six points for Horford, eight for Tatum) then flipped a two-point deficit to a 106-96 advantage that left the Bucks trying to launch their way back into it.

When the Green responded to late triples by Grayson Allen and Wes Matthews with buckets of their own in the paint,  the writing was on the wall.

Tatum paced the Celtics with 13 rebounds. Smart chipped in 18 points, eight assists and his usual stellar defense against all comers. Brown tallied 18 points despite the foul trouble.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – as usual – led the Bucks with 34 points and 18 rebounds. But the Greek Freak seemed to run out of gas late after commanding so much defensive attention. Jrue Holiday had 16 points and nine assists, but shot just 5-of-22. Brook Lopez had 17 for Milwaukee.

It was another gnarly third quarter for Boston, as the Bucks pushed the lead as high as eleven. Brown and Grant Williams were both called for their fourth personal fouls relatively early in the frame, while an emboldened Antetokounmpo and the Bucks looked destined to make it a 3-1 series.

The Celtics held the home team to just 35 percent shooting in the first half, but faced a steep rebounding deficit, including a 10-2 Milwaukee advantage on the offensive glass over the first 24 minutes. Boston trailed by one at the break.

The Bucks led 25-18 after one, as the Celtics shot just 2-for-9 from deep in the opening quarter with five turnovers. Meanwhile, the Bucks had six offensive rebounds in the opening 12 minutes.

Robert Williams was a late scratch for Boston with swelling in his surgically repaired left knee. Coach Ime Udoka anticipates a return to the floor for the big man in Game 5. Khris Middleton remained sidelined for Milwaukee.

Game 5 is Wednesday back at TD Garden. Pregame coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub, with tipoff just after 7:00 p.m.

Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.