Nets Sneak By Celtics Behind Unexpected Big 3

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And he knew it, too. (AP)


Hi! The Nets have won three straight. Here’s how:

What happened: In a Boxing Day afternoon matinée, the Nets played their second of two games in Boston, clawing out a 109-107 victory that went right down to the buzzer.

Where they stand: In the win, the Nets moved to 13-15 on the season, tying the Miami Heat for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Next behind them? None other than the Celtics, who fell to 10-17 in the loss.

That was… Wild. The Nets and Celtics left the first half deadlocked at 56, and the Nets finished the half strongly enough to foresee a competitive game. But the Nets allowed two big runs against two different lineups in the third quarter, falling behind by double-digits and ending the quarter down seven.

The Nets clawed back, slowly and surely, behind the unheralded Alan Anderson, the near-deified Mason Plumlee, and the suddenly-incredible Jarrett Jack, who each made key plays down the stretch to cut Boston’s lead down. Anderson hit three-pointers, cut to the basket at smart times, and found Bojan Bogdanovic for a nice, easy layup in transition. Jack created open mid-range looks and converted. Plumlee continued to muscle for rebounds and shots inside, finishing with a game-high 12 boards on the night.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING! This win gives the Nets three straight victories, marking their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Game Grades: Read ’em here.

New Big 3 In Town:
Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson: 25 points, 10-26 FG, 0-5 3PT, 7 rebounds, 5 assists.
Jarrett Jack, Mason Plumlee, Alan Anderson: 56 points, 19-28 FG, 4-6 3PT, 20 rebounds, 10 assists.

(Yes, it’s somewhat minutes-related, but that’s the point, isn’t it?)

Alan Anderson was the lone member of the new big 3 to come off the bench, and he made an enormous impact in the fourth quarter, hitting two three-pointers, two layups, and finding Bojan Bogdanovic for a nice one in transition as the Nets erased the Celtics’ lead.

JACK IT UP!:

Jarrett Jack took on a firing mentality, taking and making a couple of tough shots after shaking and baking, capping a nine-point quarter with this wild drive-and-pull-up near-buzzer beater.

He was only just getting started. Jack finished with a season-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half, capping the game with a big 14-foot contested jumper to break a 104-104 tie and later hitting two free throws to put the Nets up four.

Jack stayed around the free throw line all day today, hitting six of his eight field goals from that area and adding a perfect 10-10 performance from the free throw line.

The Nets are not normal: Usually teams up four with a few ticks left and a crunch-time maestro in Joe Johnson don’t have much drama following them. But Celtics guard Avery Bradley hit his third three-pointer of the night, an top-of-the-key look, to cut the lead to 108-107 with 1.8 seconds left.

The Celtics fouled Johnson, who surprisingly missed one of two free throws, and without a time-out remaining, had one last full-court gasp, shown above. Couldn’t have gotten a better look.

And he knew it, too. (AP)
And he knew it, too. (AP)

YOU’RE NOT WHAM-MY *clap-clap clapclapclap*:

Deron Williams Back: Williams returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a low-grade left calf strain, missing a total of two games. Williams played nearly 21 minutes in his return, coming off the bench for the first time since last January. He struggled with his outside shot, but distributed well to his teammates and looked comfortable in his return.

Wait, by then they’re not rum- oh, never mind:

Brook Lopez, unfinished: Lopez came off the bench for the second straight game, scoring eight points and doing little else in just under 14 minutes. Lopez hit two mid-range jumpers, a pretty hook shot in the first half, and a reverse dunk off his lone rebound in the fourth quarter, yet still lacks explosiveness and a comfort in the space around the basket on both ends of the floor.

Returning from injury doesn’t happen overnight for seven-footers, which is why there’s still hope for the lumbering Lopez.

Birthday presence: Today marked Cory Jefferson’s 24th birthday. To celebrate? Lionel Hollins put him on the inactive list. Lionel Hollins don’t take no mess.

Across the river: The New York Knicks took a collective day off to recover from this.

Next up: The Nets travel back home to Brooklyn to take on the Indiana Pacers, who play the second half of a road back-to-back after facing the Detroit Pistons Friday night in Detroit.

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