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Boston Blowout: Nets extend their winning streak to four, walloping Celtics, 123-104

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Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

It got interesting late but it was too tall of a mountain for the Celtics to climb.

The Nets defeated the Celtics, 123-104, at TD Garden in front of a sellout crowd of 19,156 on Thanksgiving Eve. With the victory, Brooklyn improves their Eastern Conference best-record to 14-5 (two-game lead) and adds another win to their league-best road record — 8-2.

“I just like how we stuck to the game plan,” said Kevin Durant on the biggest takeaway from the win. “We went over how we are going to guard this team in shootaround this morning. The transfer was something that we’re all proud of. That’s really what it is; transferring what you learn in practices and shootarounds and trying to execute in the games. I think tonight was one of those nights we took a step in the right direction.”

Patty Mills was in FIBA Patty Mode. He continued his historic 3-point shooting with another stellar sharpshooting show of 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting overall and 7-of-10 from deep in 33 minutes.

“Patty was unbelievable for us tonight and has been so big for us this year,” said Steve Nash on Mills. “His spirit is incredible. His IQ and experience are amazing as well, and just the shot-making is the lead. He does so many things for us that kind of ties the whole thing together.”

The veteran guard has now drilled seven or more threes in a game for the third time this season — Mills hit seven or more threes in a game only three times in his first 12 seasons combined. For the season, he’s drilled threes at a 50.4 percent rate and during Joe Harris’ absences, he’s at 54.5 percent. No more worry about finding warm clothes. He’s hot enough, noted the owner...

“Settling in, I think. I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that,” said Mills on his red-hot shooting from 3-point range. “Understanding what’s needed from me: staying ready, being ready, and knowing the ball is going to come flying at me at some point. I think staying aggressive with an aggressive mindset at the end of the day will loosen up Kevin and James. That doesn’t just go for me. That goes for everyone down the line.”

Brooklyn finished with five players in double-figures. Kevin Durant scored 21 points, handed out eight assists and grabbed four rebounds in 37 minutes followed by James Harden with 20 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge, who started for the first time this season, finished with 17 points and nine boards in 29.

Cam Thomas had another nice game off the bench with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field, to go with three rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes off the bench. He was 0-of-6 from deep. DeAndre’ Bembry had another strong defensive game with 10 rebounds, three steals and a block to go with nine points in 26 minutes.

“One thing about Cam though is he got the ultimate green light and confidence. I’ve seen it in a couple of guys that actually go out there and do it. It’s impressive,” said James Harden on Thomas. “He works his butt off. He goes down to the G League, comes back up, and is very professional.”

The Nets scorching offense finished the blowout shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from deep. Only a 76.7 percent mark from the line prevented Brooklyn from going 50/40/90.

“I thought our defense was strong and I thought getting out and playing early; those are the two things we really been trying to build on,” said Nash. “What we asked them to do defensively, they executed from the start and that allows us to get out and play in an open floor. Played with pace and like I keep saying, play in a defense that’s in transition, not set and looking at us. Those are probably the biggest takeaways.”

Brooklyn went with Aldridge at the 5 to pair with Harden, Mills, Durant and DeAndre’ Bembry to start off the contest. Nash put an emphasis on his players starting the game on a strong note and his players delivered behind the play of Mills, who drilled three 3-pointers in the opening four minutes of play to give Brooklyn an early 12-5 advantage.

“We just need to look at different things. I think it picked up our pace. LA isn’t necessarily the fastest guy on the floor but we played with pace and played with ideas,” added Nash. “We weren’t stagnant, we moved the ball and I thought we defended well.”

The Celtics mounted a comeback without Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown on the floor. Boston was sharp with their passes and the cutters capitalized on the pockets of space opened by the Nets switching defense to trim the deficit to 24-18 with 2:34 remaining. The Nets ended the first period with a seven-point lead (29-22), led by Durant with 10 points in 12 minutes, followed by Mills with nine points. Thomas provided a small spark with four points in seven minutes off the bench.

The offense caught fire early from behind the arc in the second. Brooklyn forged an 11-3 run in the opening two minutes to build their advantage to 40-25. Boston responded with a small 7-2 run to cut the deficit to nine but that was the closest the Celtics got in the frame.

On defense, Boston simply couldn’t find an answer to shrink the floor, resulting in the Nets getting open looks and capitalizing. Thomas served as a catalyst in the frame. He heated up on both ends, scoring four points and pinning a shot on the defensive end, ending the half with eight points off the bench.

Durant and Mills led Brooklyn with 12 points each at the break (62-49) while Harden recorded a quiet seven points, five assists and one board in 18 minutes. Overall, the Nets shot 48.8 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three-point range. Outside of their strong shooting, Brooklyn dished 16 assists on their 20 made shots and out-rebounded Boston, 23-22.

Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

It was the Brooklyn Way in the third powered by dominance.

The Celtics quickly found themselves in a bigger hole in the opening minutes of the third, trailing by 21 points after an 11-3 run from Brooklyn, adding a layer of frustration over the no-calls continued to brew. The shots continued to fall consistently as Brooklyn pushed their spacing and Boston failed to shrink the floor on offense and the Nets defense restricted the Celtics ball movement. The Nets ballooned their lead to 29 with five minutes remaining in the frame and when the quarter buzzer sounded, Brooklyn held a commanding 97-76 advantage with five players in double-figures — Aldridge (17), Mills (17), Durant (16), Harden (15) and Thomas (11).

And then the script flipped and the Celtics intensity rose. Boston came storming back, forging a 17-0 run (carried from the third) to trim the large deficit to 14 points with nine minutes remaining, resulting in Nash subbing Durant back into the ball game. The Celtics continued to hang around, cutting the Nets lead to 13 with 5:28 left but that was as close as they came in the end.

Brooklyn did not trail once throughout the contest. The Nets now have won four straight, seven of their last eight and 12 of their last 14. They are 8-2 on the road, the franchise’s best record in their first 10 road games of a season in franchise history. It is also the most road wins in the NBA this season.

Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 20 points in 36 minutes followed by Jayson Tatum with 15 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field and 1-of-9 from three in 30 minutes. Overall, the Nets held the Celtics duo of Jaylen Brown and Tatum to 12-of-31 shooting.

“We got back and got organized. Defensively, we were in good help positions and we were physical,” said Nash on holding on the Celtics to poor shooting percentages. “It shows the important characteristics of our defense, especially in the first half.”

With the defeat, Boston falls to 10-9 on the season. The loss ended their best stretch of the young season, a three-game winning streak.

Milestone Watch

With his first basket of the game, Kevin Durant moved into the top 25 of NBA scoring. Durant (24,369 points) moved past Allen Iverson (24,368 points). Next up? Ray Allen (24,505).

“It means the world. I dedicated my life to this game at an early age, so I watched all of these guys and I’m like passing up [on the list]. I wanted to be like them and be in the NBA like that and make an impact in the league like them, so Iverson was a pantheon for me,” said Durant on passing Iverson on the league’s all-time scoring list.

“One of those guys I emulated every time I went outside to play with my friends. It’s all surreal. I pictured I would be in the league and an idea, but to do it is pretty special.”

Durant, a native of Prince George’s County outside Washington, said it was particularly moving because he had watched Iverson during his one year at Georgetown.

“I really became a huge Iverson fan, obviously, just like everybody else his rookie year. But seeing him at Georgetown and playing for coach [John] Thompson and that whole culture that they built there, he was a huge part of that,” Durant said. “But once he came to the league, he had players ... I was a center, power forward on my young team, and we all were long crossing and double crossing. He influenced a lot of people.

“So to pass him on the list and to be up there with some of the greats on that list is incredible. I’ve just got to keep going.”

Clara Wu Tsai talks about community

In the first of a two-part interview with YES Network’s Michael Grady, Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai spoke mainly about her life and how she and husband Joe are hoping to help improve the Brooklyn community. She described her role with Nets as “partners” with her husband. “We complement that relationship,” she said, noting the two of them met on blind date in New York.

In addition to talking about the Brooklyn Social Justice Fund, financed with a $50 million grant from the Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, the Kansas native talked about the genesis of the newest piece of art on the Barclays Center plaza. Wu Tsai said the point of “We Belong Here/You Belong Here” neon sculptures is to “commemorate” the demonstrations that took place after George Floyd murder, part of “growing the society and community.”

Here’s the full interview...

The second part of the interview will air within YES’ Nets pre-game show this Saturday (7:00 p.m. ET).

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

The Nets will host the Suns on Saturday, November 27 at Barclays Center. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“We can continue to build on this. We go back home and got the Suns. We all know how they’ve been playing,” said James Harden. “It’s going to be another great test for us and we just got to continue to get better, continue to keep growing, find things that work, find things that don’t work on both ends and keep pushing.”

For a different perspective, check out CelticsBlog — our sister site covering the Celtics.