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Celtics take over Barclays and defeat Nets, 109-102

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

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Life without D’Angelo Russell doesn’t seem too great. It also didn’t help that the Nets played the NBA’s hottest team.

The Brooklyn Nets (5-9) returned home without Russell and lost to the Boston Celtics (13-2), 109-102, Tuesday night in Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving shredded Brooklyn’s defense with 25 points and five assists, but it was a balanced attack and solid defense that won it for Boston.

It was a game of runs and against a team like the Boston Celtics, you simply cannot afford it. You literally run out of time.

"It just goes to show when you play great team, you can't just have little strings here and there,” Joe Harris said after his career game. “You’ve got to have the complete game and that’s where we were lacking.”

It seemed more like an away game for the Nets. Barclays Center was swarmed with green as Boston fans chanted, “Lets go Celtics!” and “MVP” for Irving throughout the game.

Boston started the game on a 17-4 run and it looked like it was going to be a long night against the NBA’s best. However, the Nets answered with a strong 32-20 second quarter and knotted things up at 52 apiece at half.

Then, Brad Stevens made his adjustments at the half and things changed.

The Celtics held the Nets to 19 points in the third quarter comparec to their 32-point outburst. They closed out the third quarter on a 19-6 run and held Brooklyn to just two field goals in the final seven minutes of the third. Again, it looked like the Nets would surrender but they didn’t.

But as we said, It was a game of runs.

Instead, the Nets went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter and cut the lead down to one. They hung around, but never broke through.

"They do a great job of continuing to grind on you and making it as tough as possible,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said about the Nets. “They come back a lot. You knew it was going to be tough."

He was right, until Boston sealed it with 55 seconds left. Sophomore Jaylen Brown, taken with the 2016 Nets pick, hit Jason Tatum, taken with the 2017 Nets pick, on an alley-oop to seal the deal and put Boston up by eight with 55 seconds left. Both were given up in the Nets trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, now happily retired..

It seemed appropriate.

Marcus Morris was the anchor for Boston in the fourth quarter, propelling them on a 13-2 run with 11 of his 21 coming in the final quarter. The third quarter hurt Brooklyn, but their failure to execute down the stretch – especially defensively – killed their chances.

Caris LeVert did all he could and had his best game of the season with 15 points and four assists on 6-of-7 shooting. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, continuing his solid play of late.

Meanwhile, Harris scored 19 points on a season and career-high five 3-pointers while Allen Crabbe also nailed a Nets’ season-high five from deep. Starting in place for the injured Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie had a decent night with 12 points and 10 assists, but only 4-of-14 from the field.

The Nets lived at the 3-point line with 14 made on 35 attempts. That’s 40 percent.

The Nets played well for most of the game, but it just seemed like they were waiting for Russell to come in the game and hit that big bucket they needed. Only he wasn’t there, and we won’t know when he will be.

For a different perspective, head over to Celtics Blog.

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The Nets will face the Utah Jazz on Friday at home.