Friday, December 26, 2014

Nets 109 - Celtics 107: C's fall short at the end, Nets win in TD Garden matinee

Photo: Winslow Townson (Reuters)

It was a game that came down to the final seconds; and ended with a play that no one expected.

Celtics were down by four points before Avery Bradley hit a three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left, cutting Brooklyn's lead down to 107-108. The Celtics didn't have any timeouts left but had enough time to intentionally foul Joe Johnson.

Johnson, who could have sealed the win for the Nets by purposely missing his second free throw attempt, missed the first but made the second free throw and pushed Brooklyn's lead to 107-109.

Gerald Wallace threw a tremendous baseline pass that went nearly went across the length of the court to Jared Sullinger, who caught the ball, and had just enough time for a fade away jumper that rattled out of the rim as time expired. The Celtics almost scored five points in less than five seconds, nearly sending the game into overtime.
"Gerald threw a heck of a pass," Sullinger said after the game. "That's the best shot you can get - 1.5 seconds on the clock and that close to the rim."
Celtics had a considerable lead in the fourth quarter. They led by 11 points, but like most close games this season, Celtics' lead dwindled away. Nets finished the game on a 25-12 run in the last eight minutes.
"It was that 9-0 run, right? I mean, they cut it to 2 in about two minutes, with what, six or seven minutes to go?" Stevens asked reporters when talking about the Nets' big fourth quarter. "I thought that was the key to the game, obviously. They got transition baskets off of our mistakes offensively at that time, and then, they made some crucial shots, obviously. But it changed very, very quickly. It changed going up for us, too, quickly. Just kind of the way the game goes."
This Celtics team plays best when their desperate. It didn't surprise me that they were one Sullinger's 18-foot jumper away from overtime after scoring so many points in such little time. But before that, when the game was close, the Celtics missed three consecutive shots in the last four minutes while the game was tied, 99-99. That didn't surprise me either.

Photo: Michael Dwyer (Associated Press)
Brooklyn's Jarrett Jack did just about everything for his Nets. His 27 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals made it easy for Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins to keep him in over Deron Williams. Williams, who was a game-time decision, didn't start the game (calf ailment) but played 20 minutes off the bench. Brook Lopez (back) also didn't start but came off the bench.

Nets center Mason Plumlee put together a double-double, he scored 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. And Alan Anderson scored 15 points off the bench

After both were benched throughout the fourth quarter of last Tuesday's game at Orlando, Jeff Green and Sullinger responded well against the Nets. Jeff Green scored 22 points to go with his 5 rebounds and Sullinger chipped in 19 points and grabbed 8 boards.

Kelly Olynyk chipped in 11 points off the bench but was the only reserve who showed consistency. Evan Turner struggled to score (3 points) in 21 minutes but dished out 6 assists. It might take a few more games for coach Stevens to adjust to his new rotations, making it tough for the bench to contribute offensively. In the meantime, the Celtics will have to rely on their starters to carry a lot of the scoring load.

Although the Celtics bench scored 30 points, Olynyk, Jameer Nelson, and Evan Turner are the only reserves who are playing consistent (over 15) minutes.

Kevin Garnett received a loud ovation from the fans at the Garden when he was introduced to the crowd before tip-off, and after all three of his made shots. Garnett finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds in 17 minutes.

KG couldn't give reporters a definitive answer when asked if he had just played his last game at TD Garden. He did however talk about the city of Boston and how he still keeps in touch with his former Celtic teammates.
"I'll always have that special relationship with this city," Garnett said. "I had seen Paul [Pierce] the other day. He was in town to play the Knicks. At this stage, when you know that things are not taken for granted, but more appreciated. It [retirement] crossed there [his mind]. Wouldn't lie about that."
Paul Pierce will face his former team one final time this season, tomorrow night when the Celtics head to Washington D.C. to take on the Wizards.

Game Notes:

Celtics had three chances to tie this game in the final 30 seconds. After Green missed his shot attempt, Sullinger's offensive rebound gave the C's a second chance. Following a timeout (second of their final three that were called in the last minute of the game), coach Stevens drew up a play for Evan Turner. Turner missed the open mid-range shot to tie the game. It's not the first time Stevens has looked for Turner to hit a shot in a crucial spot. The last time the Celtics faced the Wizards, he turned to Turner at the end of the double-overtime thriller, which ended in another miss. Turner has turned into the Celtics' second option for game winning/tying shots behind Jeff Green. If the opportunity presents itself, don't be surprised if you see Turner in a similar situation against the Wizards tomorrow night or sometime in the near future.

Josue Pavon 
Twitter: @Joe_Sway10

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