Thursday, February 15, 2024

Celtics 136, Nets 86: Payton Pritchard leads the way for Joe Mazzulla's 100th win as coach

The Celtics cruised past the Brooklyn Nets 136-86 at TD Garden Wednesday for the second straight victory in as many nights to conclude their home-and-home series and head into the All-Star break with the league's best record.

Payton Pritchard finished with 28 points off the bench on 11-of-16 from the field and 6-of-9 from deep, while Derrick White scored 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and Jayson Tatum added 20 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists -- to give Joe Mazzulla his 100th win as a head coach and hand the Nets their second-worst loss in franchise history.

Mazzulla, who took over last season as the C's coach went 57-25 in year one and currently has his team at the top of the standings at 43-12.
"It's a testament to the people you have around you," Mazzulla said postgame on the past two seasons. "I tell the players, 'I can't be who I am if they don't let me. I'm grateful for that."
Kristaps Porzingis returned from a one-game absence to notch 15 points before heading into the locker room with an ankle sprain in the first half. Though he didn't return due to the game being in hand, the veteran big man spoke about Mazzulla not getting enough credit for what he has done this season.
"He's very underrated as a coach. And different. I think people really don't see who he is and how he coaches," Porzingis said in his postgame comments. "He deserves a lot of credit."
Boston, coming off a 118-110 victory Tuesday at the Barclays Center, never trailed in this one -- leading by a margin of 56 at one point. It marked the fifth 50-point win in team history with two of them coming this season alone.

Playing without Jaylen Brown (shoulder) and Al Horford (toe), the Celtics opened up the game with a 30-15 run and connected on 64% from the field in the first quarter. The Nets were held to 17 points in the second period to trail by 37 and Boston took a 68-32 advantage into the break -- their largest halftime lead since 2010 (against the then-New Jersey Nets) with the same 36-point edge.

Brooklyn's deficit ballooned to 46 in the third quarter, before all starters sat the entire final frame. Trendon Watford led the Nets with 15 points and Mikal Bridges chipped in 10 on 4-of-12 from the field.

The Celtics will head out on the road to face the Chicago Bulls (26-29) next Thursday, February 22, following All-Star Weekend.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 57.1% of their field goal attempts, including 22-of-45 (48.9%) from 3-point range while the Nets were held to 38.3% from the floor and 10-of-31 from long distance (32.3%). The C's won the rebound battle 51-31 and outscored the visiting team 46-32 in the paint. The Celtics dished out 32 assists (10 turnovers) on 52 baskets and Brooklyn had 27 dimes (12 turnovers) on 31 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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