D’Angelo Russell put on a show in the third quarter and gave the Nets something they didn’t have much of throughout the night: hope.
Russell scored nine straight points and led the Nets on a 17-4 run and 38-29 advantage in the third to cut the deficit down to one entering the fourth. Not bad, considering the Nets entered the night with five rotational players out and trailed by 10 at half.
Russell was scorching and the Nets had momentum.
Then, we saw something familiar from earlier in the year. Despite this being a very winnable game, Kenny Atkinson benched Russell the final 8:42 of the game. They were on the wrong end of a 20-6 run and scored a total of 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Final score: Boston 112, Nets 104.
So why did he sit him?
“It was rebounding in the zone, there were some rebounds he could’ve gotten... It was a teachable moment,” Atkinson said, post-game.
“Whatever coach’s decision was I’m buying with it. He’s got us this far so I’m trusting his moves,” Russell said. “I missed a rebound, 50-50 play that set him off a little bit. I’ve got to be better, something I’ve got to think about going into the next one. We need those plays.”
Could there also be another reason: The back-to-back against Chicago tomorrow night? But that’s no excuse. He’s 22-years-old, he only played 24 minutes, he was the team’s leading scorer and the Nets trailed by only 1 entering the 4th.
Indeed, Russell has hit more than 48 three-pointers in the month of January — the most ever made by a Net in a month span. It’s also the most any player has hit in the Eastern Conference this month.
Bottom line: it felt like they quit on this game. No matter, none of this will matter in the grand scheme of things.
The Nets were completely depleted in this game. They were missing Treveon Graham (back), Allen Crabbe (knee), Spencer Dinwiddie (thumb), Jared Dudley (hamstring), Caris LeVert (foot) and Dzanan Musa (shoulder). Musa hinted he might be back when the Long Island Nets play again Wednesday night.
For the Celtics, Kyrie Irving was out with a hip injury.
Russell finished the night with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting. He did, however, turn the ball over five times. The other starters didn’t carry the load. They shot just 13-of-42 with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Rodions Kurucs and Joe Harris combining to shoot just 10-of-36 from the floor.
There were good performances — Shabazz Napier chipped in 20 off the bench, DeMarre Carroll 12 and Ed Davis eight to go along with 11 rebounds. Mitch Creek finished with six points and five rebounds in his second career game, with his mother in the stands.
As a whole, the Nets shot 37.5 percent from the field and had their shots blocked 16 times throughout the night. The Celtics were led by Marcus Smart (21 points, seven assists). The Celtics shot 45 percent and improved to 31-19 on the season — pulling 4 1⁄2 games above the Nets for the fifth seed.
The Nets have only lost six games since December 6 — three in January — and the Celtics handed them two. They’re now 27-24. So, we’ll just have to wait to see the Nets match last season’s win total.
As for the injuries...
“We can’t think that way,” Atkinson said prior to the game. “When Caris got hurt, it was a shock to the system for all of us because he was playing out of his mind, he was playing great. We were kind of knocked back by that, and it was followed by that losing streak. But since then, as guys have been in and out of the lineup, that’s our maturity and confidence and guys not looking for the guy that’s out but doing it themselves. We’ve grown in that sense.”
The Nets entered Monday standing two games ahead of the Heat for the six seed and 3 1⁄2 games out from the fifth seed Celtics. Not much changed by night’s end. Brooklyn is still in sixth, a game and a half ahead of seven seed Heat and eight seed Hornets.
MITCH CREEK AND AN AUDIENCE FROM DOWN UNDER
Mitch Creek played 19 minutes, starting in the first quarter, and finished with six points and five rebounds, shooting 2-of-5 from the floor and a +/- of +6.
But the biggest moment of his night came in the stands where his mother, a concert pianist, was sitting, having flown 21 hours from Melbourne to Boston. Here she is, captured by YES Network cameras, when Creek went to the line...
JOE HARRIS... JUST YOUR TYPICAL BROOKLYNNITE
Kelly Whiteside of the New York Times wrote a great piece on Joe Harris in which he discusses his upbringing, love for basketball, rise with the Nets and so much more. The funniest part?
“Most of the time, I blend in,” he said. “I kind of look like I work in a Brooklyn coffee shop.”
NETS GIVE MEDICAL UPDATE ON DINWIDDIE
Spencer Dinwiddie underwent successful surgery on his right thumb on Monday night. No timetable was given, but Woj mentioned 3-6 weeks on Sunday. Dinwiddie poetically tweeted out that he’s OK (and the medical update, too).
GET JOE HARRIS IN THE 3-POINT CONTEST...
... He’s shooting 47 percent from three this season — good for third-best in the NBA. Nets players have been very vocal about it.
Joe Harris better be in the 3 point contest... He’s a valuable piece on a surging Brooklyn Nets team....forgot to mention he’s shooting 47% ....Do the right thing @NBA ... ♂️ ♂️— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) January 26, 2019
@NBA we’ve had beef in the past but not selecting Joe to the 3pt contest is the last straw!— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) January 27, 2019
AS OF MONDAY IM GOING ON STRIKE
(And I will not re evaluate this decision for approximately 3weeks)
There are three spots left
For a different perspective, head on over to Celtics Blog, our sister site on SB Nation, where the big news isn’t the game, but the news that Anthony Davis wants out of New Orleans ... but doesn’t apparently want into Boston.
The Nets will face the Chicago Bulls in the second night of a back-to-back on Tuesday at Barclays Center.
- Box Score: Boston Celtics 112, Brooklyn Nets 104 - NBA.com
- Video: Boston Celtics 112, Brooklyn Nets 104 - NBA.com
- Nets Post Game Plus: BKN@BOS (Video) - Bob Lorenz - YES Network
- Nets lose to Celtics, 112-104 (Video) - Ian Eagle & Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Atkinson on 112-104 loss (Video) - YES Network
- Russell on 112-104 loss (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Brown and Smart carry Celtics past short-handed Nets 112-104 - Ken Powtak - AP
- Strong 4th quarter sends Celtics past Nets - Reuters
- Injury-plagued Nets see win streak snapped by Celtics - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Why Anthony Davis might not be best move for Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Battered Nets lineup can’t handle Celtics as six-game win streak ends in Boston - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets get Joe Harris back, but lose Treveon Graham to injury - Greg Logan - Newsday
- CELTICS 112, NETS 104: BOSTON PULLS AWAY FROM BROOKLYN IN FOURTH QUARTER - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. CELTICS - Brooklyn Nets
- Celtics make deep splash, escape from Nets tangle - Steve Bulpett - Boston Herald
- Celtics, Horford enjoy block party - Adam Himmelsbach - Boston Globe