BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Call it the luck of the Irish.
Playing without star Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics (44-25) knocked off the Brooklyn Nets (13-55), 98-95, Friday night on St. Paddy’s day. The Nets had a chance to nab their first win streak of the season, but failed to come up with the necessary stops late, then missed twice at the buzzer in a futile attempt to tie.
“I thought we did a good job executing,” Kenny Atkinson said after the game. “The positive I take: we’re learning to play when shots aren’t falling for us and that’s important.”
It was quite the turnover from last night’s scorching hot second half at MSG. The Celtics did exactly what they wanted and slowed the pace down as both teams struggled to find offense.
The Nets trailed by eight at break after shooting 12-of-42 and 3-of-18 from deep. The Celtics shot 16-of-44 and Avery Bradley was the only player in double figures with 10 points.
The Nets jumped out to a 12-3 start at the beginning of the third and took a one-point lead, their first since the first quarter. The Celtics, however, finished the quarter on a 14-8 spurt and led by six entering the fourth.
Then things got interesting again. The deficit didn’t last long. The Nets hit their first three three-pointers to start the fourth and regained a one-point lead. Suddenly, the crowd —at least the Nets fans, that is —was back into it and the momentum was with Brooklyn.
The teams exchanged leads back and forth most of the way, but Jae Crowder threw down an and-one and put Boston up by six with 2:52 remaining. Crowder like the barrage of sound he heard from Celtics fans and flexed.
At that point, Jeremy Lin was still on the bench. He sat nine minutes in the fourth, and it was probably nine minutes too long. Lin finished with 10 points and six assists in 22 minutes. Still on minutes restrictions, he played 52 in the last two days.
An 8-0 Boston run put the Celtics up by eight with 2:16 left.
The Nets fought back yet again and cut the lead down to two with 44 seconds left. They forced a missed shot, but the refs called a questionable foul on Jeremy Lin. That sent Boston to the line for the rest of the way.
The Nets had a chance to tie with 9.1 seconds, but Brook Lopez and then Quincy Acy each missed and time expired. And that was that.
“I was confident and it felt good,” Lopez said of the final shot. “I thought it was going in, but they took away our first option. I just tried to make myself available, and we fought till the the very end.”
Said Lin, “They knew we were going to shoot a three, so they lined up in a way that was - when they know you’re going for it, and they line up the way they did, it’s tough for any play to work so that was a good job on their end.”
Lin declined to talk about his minutes.
Brooklyn shot 36 percent overall and 11-of-35 from deep after shooting 3-of-18 in the first half. The 36 percent is the second-worst they’ve shot in a game this season.
Lopez scored a team-high 23 points to go along with four assists and two blocked shots. Randy Foye scored in double digits for a third consecutive game with 14 points and Andrew Nicholson recorded his high as a Net with 11 points in 16 minutes. Nicholson in fact had a role in the Nets third quarter comeback. K.J. McDaniels had six points and four rebounds in 18 minutes.
Boston didn’t shoot all too great either. They hit on 40 percent of their shots and hit jut 7-of-29 from deep. The absence of Isaiah Thomas hurt them, but Jae Crowder stepped up in his place and dropped a game-high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Nets have a 4-8 record since the All-Star Break.
Caris LeVert didn’t have a great game, scoring five points in 24 minutes, shooting just 1-of-6. Isaiah Whitehead had worse luck, not hitting a single shot in seven attempts during his 23 minutes on the floor. He finished with two points. But Jaylen Brown, the Celtics rookie taken at No. 3 overall, the Nets pick, didn’t score at all in 15 minutes.
For post-game audio, click here.
Next up: Mavericks at home, Sunday at 12pm.
- Box Score: Boston Celtics 98, Brooklyn Nets 95 - NBA.com
- Highlights: Celtics vs. Nets (Video) - NBA.com
- Crowder and-one dunk (Video) - NBA.com
- McDaniels jam (Video) - NBA.com
- Horford snags the lob (Video) - NBA.com
- Green throws it down (Video) - NBA.com
- Dinwiddie goes coast-to-coast (Video) - NBA.com
- Horford and-one (Video) - NBA.com
- Hollis-Jefferson takes off (Video) - NBA.com
- Nicholson after loss to Celtics (Video) - YES Network
- Lopez on Nets recent improvement (Video) - YES Network
- Hollis-Jefferson on late battle (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on tough loss to Boston (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on facing tough Celtics (Video) - YES Network
- Crowder helps lift Celtics past Knicks 98-95 - Adry Torres - AP
- Crowder, Celtics stave off upset-minded Nets - Larry Fleisher - Reuters
- Nets’ luck fails in final moments in tough loss to Celtics - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets’ rally falls short in loss to Celtics on St. Patrick’s Day - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- The Difference Between the Nets and the Knicks? The Nets Have a Plan - Harvey Araton - New York Times
- No Pot of Gold Here: Nets lose tight one to Celtics (Game Grades) - Benny Nadeau - The Brooklyn Game
- Celtics hold off lowly Brooklyn with Isaiah Thomas out of lineup - Mark Murphy - Boston Herald
- CROWDER LEADS WAY FOR CELTICS AS THEY HOLD OFF NETS FOR 98-95 WIN - A. Sherrod Blakely - Comcast Sports Net
- STARS, STUDS AND DUDS: CROWDER 'ANSWERED THE CALL' IN SECOND HALF WITH THOMAS OUT - A. Sherrod Blakely - Comcast Sports Net
- Jae Crowder gets Celtics by lowly Nets - Adam Himmelsbach - Boston Globe