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Lopez, Nets rally behind scuffle and defeat Celtics, 100-97

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports


OK. That might be a stretch, but the Nets improved their streak of winning the first game of the New Year (s) since moving to Brooklyn with a 100-97 emotional victory over the Boston Celtics to kick off the new year.  Now, the attention will switch to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, where Jarrett Jack will get an MRI tomorrow to determine if the knee sprain he suffered late in the game is anything worse.

It was the first game of a home-and-home with the Celtics, the next coming Monday in Brooklyn. I don't think it can get much better than this one, though.

The first half of this game was strange to say the least. The Nets played a quick, up-tempo style of play, more so because they were playing at the Celtics pace. Still, they led at the half despite shooting 1-of-7 from three.

Tempers started to flair in the third quarter. Jared Sullinger delivered a hard foul on Brook Lopez in which he wrapped his arm around Lopez's neck and essentially threw him down to the ground. Jack, a profound leader, stepped in and pushed Sullinger and stood over him as four other Celtics swarmed him.

Here's what started it:


He didn't back down, and neither did the Nets as they immediately went on a 9-0 run and took an eventual 11-point lead. They outscored the Celtics 23-13 after the flagrant and held them to just 16 points in the quarter.

But things got bad for the Nets in a different form. As Jack was running out on an open fast break, his leg appeared to buckle and he fell,  grimacing in pain and pounding the parquet floor. He couldn't put pressure on the leg and did NOT return with what the Nets hope is only a right knee sprain. After the game, things looked a lot better.

In a game filled with emotions behind the leader in Jack, the Nets had a whole new incentive to win this game. But the Celtics weren't going down without a fight.

They started the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run and tied the game at 83 apiece. The Nets fell down, but picked themselves right back up behind the lead of Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson.

The Celtics were down three with nine seconds left. The Nets coughed it up and the Celtics charged down the floor, just to see Jonas Jerebko missed a wide-open potential game-tying three. Phew. In place of Jack, Shane Larkin struggled with three of his four turnovers coming in the final 2:02 minutes of action. He looked rattled in the big moment.

Luckily, Johnson and Lopez combined for 50 points on the night and 14 of Brooklyn's 19 points in the fourth quarter. Lopez scored nine of his season-high 30 points in the final quarter. He also had 13 rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot on a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. It was the tenth 30 and 10 game of Lopez's career, six of them coming in the last year.

The Nets held the Celtics to 38.6 percent shooting, marking the second lowest opponent field goal percentage this season.

Joe Johnson hasn't scored 15 points since December 8th vs. Houston. In this one, he had 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Along with him, Thaddeus Young notched his 17th double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Post game, Johnson was critical of the Nets play down the stretch, saying bad plays including turnovers had given the Celtics life.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 24 points and six assists, while Jae Crowder chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds

The Nets, at 10 wins, remain undefeated in 2016.

For more on the Boston Celtics, check them out at CelticsBlog