Saturday, March 4, 2023

Nets 115, Celtics 105: Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn overcome 28-point deficit

The Celtics blew a 28-point lead, as they fell to the new-look Brooklyn Nets 115-105 Friday night at TD Garden.

Jaylen Brown finished with 35 points on 15-of-27 from the field, while Jayson Tatum added 22 points (10-of-23) and 13 rebounds for the Celtics -- who were without Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons).

Derrick White had 16 points off the bench and Marcus Smart chipped in 13 points, eight assists as Boston fell to 45-19 on the season and a full game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the East.

Meanwhile, Robert Williams (six points, six rebounds in 19 minutes) exited the game early in the third quarter due to left hamstring tightness and did not return.

Mikal Bridges scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-22 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three, to go along with 10 rebounds to lead the Nets. Cameron Johnson netted 20 points, while Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie each had 17 points respectively for Brooklyn (35-28) -- who snapped a four-game skid.

The Celtics looked like they were going to run away with this one early, taking a 37-15 advantage into the second quarter, which eventually grew to 51-23 (the game's largest margin) with 7:40 left in the second. But the Nets would outscore Boston 40-27 for the period -- to only trail 64-55 at the break.

Brooklyn used a 26-10 run to open the third -- grabbing their first and only lead of the night, as they didn't relinquish it the rest of the game.

A Brown layup at the start of the final frame got the C's within three (89-86) the closest they would get, before Brooklyn went on a 17-6 run to go ahead 106-90 (their largest lead) with 6:54 left to play.

Boston made one last rally attempt with a 12-4 spurt capped off with Smart hitting a 3-pointer to make it 110-102 with 2:43 remaining, but Finny Smith stopped the bleeding with a 3-ball of his own to put the home team away for good.
"They beat us in every analytical category possible," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. "If we don't commit to the margins, no matter how hard we play, we're not going to win."
The Nets overcame a 28-point deficit by outscoring the Celtics 92-54 in the last 31:20 of the game.

The Celtics will look to avenge a 109-94 loss in New York last week, when they host the Knicks (38-27) Sunday night at 7:30 ET on ESPN.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 48.8% of their field goal attempts, including only going 9-of-29 (31%) from behind the arc, while the Nets were 42.1% from the floor and 14-of-44 (31.8%) from long distance. The Celtics out-rebounded the visiting team 48-47 and outscored them in the paint 60-42. The C's handed out 26 assists on 41 buckets and the Nets had 25 dimes on 40 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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