Blakely: Jae Crowder rises to the occasion


Jae Crowder could see the end in sight.

The Boston Celtics’ two-game losing skid was close, oh so close to coming to an end.

But these pesky Brooklyn Nets who handed the Celtics a 100-97 defeat just two nights earlier, were not going to go away quietly.

That’s OK.

Crowder refused to let the upset-minded Nets repeat their Saturday night success as he delivered a career-night shooting the ball to lead Boston to a 103-94 win.

The 6-foot-6 Crowder led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, including some clutch shots in the fourth quarter.

When the Nets cut Boston’s lead to five points (90-85) with less than three minutes to play, it was Crowder delivering a basket followed by him placing his index finger over his lips with crowd-quieting 3-pointer.

Brooklyn would come back and cut Boston’s lead to six points, only for Crowder to once again come up big for the Celtics.

He drove into the lane and scored while being fouled by Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez. After completing the 3-point play, the Celtics’ control of the game was never an issue afterwards.

To see Crowder rise to the occasion at that time was not a surprise to head coach Brad Stevens.

“He’s hit big shots for us all year,” Stevens said. “He’s not afraid of the moment. The biggest shot was when we were up five. Isaiah (Thomas) came off, drew the defense a little bit and threw it to him. He had a couple drives from that spot early in the game so it creates a little indecision on the close-out.”

Like most of the Celtics, Crowder was disappointed in how Boston handled its two previous games, which were losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn, respectively.

The Lakers and Nets rank among the NBA’s bottom-five teams, a collection of teams that the Celtics are just 4-3 against this season.

Knowing how they had struggled against sub-.500 teams and the Nets specifically (Brooklyn had won two of the three matchups prior to Monday) this season, there was added motivation for all – Crowder included – to find a way to close out Monday’s game with a victory.  

“We’ve been struggling to get a win,” Crowder told reporters after Monday’s game. “I just wanted to finish to the finish line. I just wanted to get a win.”

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