With the Boston Celtics in town, the Brooklyn Nets had more to play for than just position in the Eastern Conference standings. It’s been well-documented that the Nets don’t control a first round pick until 2019, and, on Wednesday night, they faced their division rival and rookie Jaylen Brown, who could have been in black and white if not for the infamous Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade.
The Nets fell 122-117 in Boston on opening night after staging a fourth quarter comeback. Justin Hamilton missed a tough fadeaway corner three-pointer to tie the game way back then, with Boston eventually icing the game with free throws. Brook Lopez played just 21 minutes in the loss, recording just 7 points and 5 rebounds; in his last 10 contests, the talented center is averaging a far more robust 21 and 5.
Tonight, however, behind a combined 55 points from the Celtics’ backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, the visitors topped the Nets 111-92.
Of course, Nets got off to a slow start, shooting just 30% in the first quarter and turning the ball over 7 times as the Celtics jumped out to a 30-16 lead. In the second quarter, it was an entirely different story as the Nets played to their Brooklyn Grit motto, thanks to a 10-2 run that trimmed their large deficit to just 9. Bojan Bogdanovic sparked the team and lead the run, scoring a handful of tough buckets to keep them alive. Bogdanovic struggled early in the game, but put the ball on the floor and got to the basket for some easy points to spark his game. Sure, the Nets make a lot of mistakes — whether it’s turning the ball over or losing defensive assignments — but they work hard, and the booming Barclays Center appreciated the effort.
Joe Harris canned a three-point just before the halftime buzzer, getting the Nets within two points in the blink of an eye. With only 3 turnovers in the quarter and 7-17 three-point shooting, the Nets, somehow, only trailed 51-49 at the break. Bogdanovic lead the Nets with 12 points and 6 rebounds on just seven shots, while Thomas and Bradley each scored 12 of their own to buoy the Celtics.
Brook Lopez scored 9 in the half and hit 1-4 three-point attempts, leading to this stat:
Per #Nets, Brook Lopez is the only player in the league to make 20+ 3-pointers and block 20+ shots this season.
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) November 24, 2016
Lopez also became the fastest Net to 20+ 3-pointers and 20+ blocks in a season (12 games). Previous fastest: Chris Morris (22 games, ’94-95), according to the Brooklyn Nets PR.
Partway through the third quarter, Isaiah Whitehead sprung Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on a fast break, but Amir Johnson fouled him just as Avery Bradley cut him off. Hollis-Jefferson went down hard and tried to play through a couple more possessions, then tweaked his ankle closing out on Al Horford, ultimately ending the sophomore’s night earlier than intended.
Hollis-Jefferson would not return as he was diagnosed with a sore right ankle, the same one that forced him to miss time last season.
Through Sean Kilpatrick, Trevor Booker, and Lopez, the Nets tied the game at 60 for a moment, but the Celtics finished the quarter on a 19-6 run to take a 79-66 lead to the 4th.
Brooklyn hung around for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics caught fire from deep as the Nets insisted to switch and play help defense on every penetration. During the Celtics’ game-clinching game, Jonas Jerebko, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Bradley, Thomas, and Horford all made three-pointers — so, yeah. Bradley scored a game-high 22 points and Thomas added in 20 and 5 assists of his own. After coming back from a 14-point deficit, the Nets showed some serious desire, but the extended run was just too much for the #PeskyNets tonight.
One final fun note: Chris McCullough checked in with 2 minutes left and became just the fourth player to log time in both a D-League game and an NBA game in the same day — so at least we have that, right?
Happy Thanksgiving from everybody at The Brooklyn Game!
The stats: 13 PTS, 4-14 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TOV
As indicated in the tweet above, Lopez is the only player in the NBA with 20-made three-pointers and 20 blocks, he’s also the fastest in Nets’ history to accomplish the feat as well.
Unfortunately, the big man continues to struggle against the Celtics, this time around that 4-14 shooting line does not look good.