The Boston Celtics came into Brooklyn Saturday night riding a five-game win streak, but Brooklyn was unable to stop it as the Nets came up just short in an 87-85 loss. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had two shots at the end to tie the game, but both bounced off the rim as the buzzer expired.
The game was not one that was decided early, but Brooklyn held the lead for the majority. The Celtics tied many times, but the Nets did not trail until Boston went on a 10-0 run in the third quarter to finally pass them.
Both sides were not successful offensively, with neither club shooting over 38 percent from the field. Both teams also struggled from three, with the Nets going 6-of-31 and Boston going 5-of-18 from distance.
The Nets held the Celtics to 16 points in the first quarter, the lowest amount they’ve held a team in a first quarter this season. From there, though, the Celtics outscored the Nets 48-39 through the second and third quarters.
What helped the Nets get ahead was an advantage in rebounds, as Brooklyn finished with the 22-11 edge inside. Joe Harris grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds with nine other teammates getting involved.
While Spencer Dinwiddie led his team with 20 points, almost all active Nets registered at least two points. That’s good for ten different players getting involved, even with the shooting struggle.
The Nets once again held an advantage in bench points, and this time Jahlil Okafor was the reason. Caris LeVert sat out for the second straight game with his left groin strain, but Okafor made the most of his 13 minutes, recording 12 points and five rebounds. He also got some buckets to go down in a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
Hollis-Jefferson was impressive with his defense, especially in the first half, and both teams were active in denying shots. The Celtics put up 12 blocks, the Nets 11, with Jayson Tatum recording six on his own.
The largest lead the Nets held was eight in the first half in a game of runs, and the Celtics built theirs to as much as six in the second half. Once the second half hit, nine lead changes occurred. Even Jim Spanarkel said the game smelled like overtime was coming.
Brooklyn continued its sloppiness from prior games in turning the ball over, as it recorded 18 giveaways to Boston’s six. Those held Brooklyn back from building a larger lead in the first half and gaining an edge in the fourth quarter.
With the Celtics on the second half of a back-to-back and the Nets coming off two days’ rest, neither team had the clear advantage in energy. The Nets continued to miss threes in the fourth quarter while the lead changed hands.
Brooklyn wound up on the bad end of some late and absent calls in the final minutes with the Nets down four with 45 seconds to go. Dinwiddie was not getting whistles for any of his drives down the stretch, including one that would have tied the game with 10 seconds left. Unlike Wednesday, Dinwiddie could not get a shot up.
Hollis-Jefferson had two chances at the rim to tie the game with six seconds left, but both came up short. The last shot came to RHJ’s hands after being ricocheted off fingertips, but it bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.
Recently, the Nets have been the team getting the close wins. Now on the other end of the situation, Nets fans can hope LeVert’s return comes sooner rather than later. Brooklyn missed his production today.
This was a heartbreaking defeat that was hard-fought by Brooklyn, but the Nets started to settle for threes in the fourth quarter instead of attacking the basket. That resulted in a close game as the Nets bring in the first loss of the new year.
The stats: 20 PTS, 7-15 FG, 1-5 3FG, 5-5 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 4 TOV, 1 STL, 37 MIN
He scored and made his free throws, but Dinwiddie could not get a call down the stretch. He drove in with 10 seconds to go but was “clobbered,” unable to get a shot up. He did not get a call, but he nearly led his team to a comeback.
LeVert was missed, Dinwiddie’s production just was not enough.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-9 FG, 0-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 12 REB, 2 AST, 2 TOV, 1 BLK, 32 MIN
Harris put up a double-double and a career-high 12 rebounds on the game. He made some big plays in the fourth quarter, including a rebound and putback to bring the Nets within two. All the Nets were missing from him today was his three ball.
The stats: 9 PTS, 2-11 FG, 2-8 3FG, 3-4 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 3 TOV, 32 MIN
The Nets needed his shot tonight, but it wasn’t there. Brooklyn needs more from Crabbe than a 2-of-11 performance from the field, especially when LeVert is out.
He needs to be better, flat-out.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-15 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-3 FT, 7 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 28 MIN
One of his worst nights on offense in a while, but RHJ was excellent on defense throughout. Those two missed shots to tie the game will hurt him for a while, though.
So close, yet so far.