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Jaylen Brown exits with ankle sprain; Boston Celtics hopeful injury not long term

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Jaylen Brown exits with apparent right ankle injury (0:33)

Jaylen Brown is helped to the locker room after rolling his right ankle on a drive to the hoop. (0:33)

BOSTON -- Celtics coach Ime Udoka said after Boston's 107-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden on Tuesday night that he is optimistic Jaylen Brown's right ankle sprain won't keep him out long term.

"[He] rolled it," Udoka said. "Got some swelling and soreness, obviously. He tried to give it a go in the back and wanted to come back out and play, [but] just decided big picture, where we're at in the season and be smart. So we'll know more over the next few days."

Brown missed practice on Wednesday and is unlikely to play Thursday against the Grizzlies.

Brown went down in a heap on a drive early in the first quarter, when it appeared he either slipped or landed on someone's foot. After initially grabbing at his hamstring, Brown stayed down on the court for an extended period, eventually getting up and exiting the floor under his own power but with a limp.

The fact that Brown, who had been averaging 23.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, was able to walk off -- and wanted to come back in -- gave Udoka confidence it won't be long before he is back.

"You would hope not," Udoka said. "He walked off by himself and then tried to go in the back. So you would hope not. But we'll evaluate him over the next few days and, hopefully, it doesn't seem like it. But you never know; it can change overnight with swelling and pain."

Hawks star Trae Young suffered a left ankle sprain when he landed on Marcus Smart's foot late in the first quarter. Smart was called for a flagrant foul on the play, and Young made the free throws then headed to Atlanta's locker room.

Young was back on the bench early in the second quarter, and he played the rest of the game -- though he admitted his ankle got stiff as the night progressed.

"It hurts right now, but I feel like, right now, the pain tolerance, I could have played through it," he said. "It's still sore, but I feel pretty confident about my ability to play through pain and stuff like that, so I plan on playing through it.

"It got stiff late. I think going into the locker room at half and then coming out it got stiff, so it took me a minute to kind of get the running going. But as long as I keep it loose here in the next couple days or whatever, hopefully I can keep it going."

Young's presence, however, wasn't enough to stop the Celtics from turning the game on its head after the break. Boston started the second half with a 51-23 run to turn a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead, as it limited Young to just 10 of his 31 points after the break.

"Upped the physicality," Udoka said, when asked what turned the game around for Boston. "That's what we talked about and showed at halftime. It was a little carryover from the last two games where we weren't our best defensively, and it obviously happened in the first half where [Young] came off clean too many times and got too many good looks.

"[There was] no yelling and screaming; it was more like, 'Just get back to who we are defensively, what we've done.' And obviously, a 13-point third and a 20-point fourth is evident of what we can do, and a huge part was obviously stopping him. Having 21 in the first half was way too many."

Atlanta also was dealing with the absence of big man Onyeka Okongwu, who entered the league's concussion protocols. Okongwu appeared to get caught with an accidental elbow from Celtics guard Derrick White early in the second quarter, exiting the game a few seconds later. The Hawks ruled the second-year forward out for the rest of the contest due to the protocols right before the start of the second half.

Okongwu, 21, is averaging 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds after being taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft.