Celtics hold off pesky Nets, 108-105

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BOSTON – The Brooklyn Nets remain one of the peskiest teams you'll find in the NBA. 

But as gritty as their play may be, the Celtics' dominance over Brooklyn shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. 

The Celtics failed to secure a much-needed rebound down the stretch and instead had to rely on some clutch free throw shooting to escape with a 108-105 victory.

After a slew of missed shots where Brooklyn managed to keep the ball alive, Quincy Acy drained a 3-pointer to bring the Nets within 105-103.

Marcus Smart made the first of two free throws, leading to the Nets calling a timeout with 14.5 seconds to play.

Coming out of the timeout, Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie had a wide open 3-pointer that hit nothing but the backboard, and was rebounded by Kyrie Irving who called a timeout with 8.3 seconds to play.

Irving was fouled on the in-bounds pass and went to the line with 7.7 seconds to play. He would make both free throws to secure the win.

The Celtics (30-10) beat the Nets (13-23) for the seventh consecutive time while extending their current winning streak to three. 

Irving led the way for Boston with 28 points. Terry Rozier had a nice game off the bench for Boston, finishing with 14 points for his fourth straight game with double-digit points – a first for the third-year guard.

Marcus Morris, playing in back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 2-4, had 15 points.

The Celtics had not won three in a row since a four-game winning streak Nov. 30-Dec. 6. 

With the score 84-80 following a Brooklyn free throw, the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to push its lead back to double digits.

It remained that way for most of the game, with Brooklyn closing to within a couple possessions of taking the lead.

Allen Crabbe had a wide open 3-pointer that would have made it a 105-103 game had it gone in.

Fortunately for Boston, it rimmed in and out.

After securing the rebound, Brad Stevens called a timeout with 1:07 to play.

The Celtics had a comfortable grip on the game in the first quarter with a good bit of the quarter spent milking a double-digit lead which stood at 38-28 after the first.

But the momentum slowly swung towards the Nets as they did what they seem to always do, which is to hang around and make the game a lot closer than most would expect.

Brooklyn was on a 12-4 run when Irving, upset at what he felt was a non-call, was whistled for a technical foul with 5:33 to play in the quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Irving raced down court and charged into Acy, resulting in him being whistled for an offensive foul.

Brooklyn continued to chip away at the lead, which stood at 61-59 going into the half.

Irving had 17 points at the half. But more than his scoring, they needed him to get back to playing with some semblance of composure and not allow the officiating to negatively impact his play.

Of course, after he was called for the offensive foul, he scored five consecutive points. But the outburst at the 5:33 mark of the second quarter provided the Nets with a small opening they were seeking in order to get back in the game and end Boston’s six-game winning streak over them.

Boston has shown itself to be able to re-focus and re-energize itself coming out of the half and Sunday night was no exception.

After a slew of back and forth misses, Boston broke open a 67-all tie with a 9-1 spurt capped off by a step-back jumper by Morris, which led to a Nets time-out with 4:32 to play in the third.

Boston would push its lead back to double-digits, 82-71, following a 3-pointer by Jaylen Brown, who was back on the floor after missing the two previous games with a right knee injury.


 

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