After two terrible losses, the Celtics traveled to Brooklyn for a gut check game. Not only did the Cs win, 103-94, but they outhustled and outmuscled the Nets, scoring 54 points in the paint in leading almost the entire 48 minutes.
Jae Crowder posted a career-high 25 points, including a cold-blooded three-pointer that put the Celts in control after the Nets had pulled within five points with three minutes to play. Crowder then closed it out by driving the ball for an and-one over mountainous Brook Lopez – flexing his bicep after the shot dropped. The three-point play gave Boston a nine-point lead with 1:29 remaining, sealing the win.
Isaiah Thomas added 19 for Boston while Amir Johnson, Evan Turner (starting for injured Avery Bradley) and Jared Sullinger scored 12 apiece. ET and Sully also grabbed 11 and 10 boards, respectively. The Nets had four players in double figures, led by Thad Young, who scored 23 with 15 rebounds and was a thorn in the side all night.
After falling behind 7-2, the Celts went on a 16-5 run to take an 18-12 lead and force a Nets timeout. (That was the final lead change of the night.) The Cs made their push by rediscovering their defensive game from earlier this season. In the first quarter alone, they had six steals and forced eight Brooklyn turnovers, leading to 11 fast break points and 20 points in the paint. Boston led 37-22 at the buzzer, closing with an 11-3 run.
The Celtics continued to exhibit high energy in the second quarter, finishing the half with 34 points in the paint and a 56-42 lead. Brooklyn stayed within reach by hitting the offensive glass, but the Nets had zero fast break points before intermission.
In the third, Lopez woke up offensively, dropping 11 points, including 5-5 from the free-throw line. Young added eight points and five boards in the frame, helping the Nets close within 79-68 heading to the fourth.
In that fourth quarter, the Celts shot poorly (7-23) but Crowder and Thomas combined for 15 points to maintain control.
Amir’s first-half defense on Lopez, who had only four points at the half after dominating on Saturday.
Crowder was everywhere in the first quarter, with 14 points, a steal and a charge take.
Marcus Smart made the steal of the year, and also curled in an impossible twisting layup that showed both power and finesse (see Greenlights).
Celts shot only 6-21 from the arc, but clearly made an effort to get the ball inside and not settle.
Kelly Olynyk started in order to create more spacing on offense, but managed to shoot just 1-8 in the first half.
Incredible play, and horrible held ball call on the quick whistle.
How did he do that?
- Shooting: Celtics 41-92 (44.6%), Nets 32-85 (37.6%)
- Points in the Paint: Celtics 54 (27/51), Nets 40 (20/42)
- 2nd Chance Points: Celtics 7 (3/13), Nets 14 (6/16)
- David Lee was DNP-CD.