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Boston sends Brooklyn down to fifth straight loss

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It could have been worse. After leaving the game with a sore right ankle and a sore right wrist, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Isaiah Whitehead pronounced themselves alright ... and x-rays were negative.

But bottom line, the Nets didn’t have enough —although they certainly tried— to overcome the Celtics and went down to their fifth straight loss, 111-92, Wednesday night. Only a double overtime loss by the 76ers kept the Nets out of the Eastern Conference cellar.

The Nets, unlike the last two games, went down early, 11-2, then 17-8, before finishing the quarter, 30-16. It looked like a long night, but in the second, the Nets showed some life, propelled by Bojan Bogdanovic, coming within two points at the half, 51-49.

Then came the third (cue up the Titanic/iceberg GIF) and after a short spurt early, tying things up at 60, the pattern fans are all too familiar with returned.

Then, as Brian Lewis wrote, the Celtics locked in. Nine straight points in a minute and a half and Brooklyn’s fate was sealed. The rest was hoping for a merciful end as the Celtics pulled away.

During that ugliness, both RHJ and Whitehead went to the locker room, but x-rays turned up negative. Neither returned to the fray, but both said they’d be fine. There was no indication either will need an MRI, but we will wait-and-see. First rule of sportswriting: never believe what a player says about his health.

Beyond the x-rays, there were other positives, starting with the defense. A couple of days of Kenny Atkinson’s tear-it-down practice seemed to have worked. They did ie up 111 points, but held Boston to 45.9-percent shooting. In terms of the Nets defense, that defines progress.

Individually, Sean Kilpatrick seemed to have finally recovered from his slump, no doubt induced by having to spend too many minutes filling at the point. He finished with 23 points and a lot of renewed confidence.

“[We have to] have individual pride,’’ Kilpatrick had said before the game. “When you have games like we had, especially the last game with them scoring as many points as they did, there wasn’t a lot of individual pride. That’s something coach has been preaching to us the most.”

Trevor Booker continued his consistent play, with yet another double-double, 18 points and 12 rebounds this time. Brook Lopez had a rare low scoring game, with 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting, 1-of-6 from deep.

But the big news remains the loss of depth at the point. Jeremy Lin missed his ninth straight game. leaving minutes to Whitehead before he went down and Yogi Ferrell.

For Boston, it was another well-balanced attack, led by the backcourt of Isaiah Thomas (23) and Avery Bradley (22).

“They hit some big three-point shots that broke the game open,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We had some good looks at the rim that didn’t go down . . . They made 15 three-pointers. That’s too much in a game like that.”

The game saw an oddity, some might say history. Chris McCullough played a minute of garbage time for the Brooklyn Nets after playing 33 minutes for the Long Island Nets. He’s the fourth NBA player to do so, following Jordan Farmar and Coby Karl, both with the Lakers and D-Fenders, and Cleanthony Early, with the New York and Westchester Knicks.

The Nets will have Thanksgiving tomorrow, then it’s on to Indiana and the Pacers on Friday.