The problem was that the Celtics were playing without their star point guard Rajon Rondo and the Nets were sloppy throughout the second half and none of their starters really played a consistent game. This was a lucky win for the Nets and it seems hard to imagine they could have won if Rondo was playing.
Brook Lopez was the star of the game with 24 points, six rebounds, and four blocked shots. Deron Williams also had 24, but shot just 6-of-17 from the floor and had a weak second half. Kris Humphries was solid with 10 points and 13 rebounds, but was also largely a first half player, and Joe Johnson continues to struggle with consistency and finished with 19 points after shooting 6-for-17 and at one point going on a 2-for-14 run.
QUICK START DERON: Rondo might not have been there, but D-Will was showing off early. He went 2-for-2 from the floor with five points and five assists in the first quarter alone. He only had three more assists throughout the rest of the game though and finished shooting 4-for-15. Luckily he went 9-for-9 from the line, hitting some key baskets in the final minutes.
CONTROL THE GLASS EARLY: The Nets had a 59-50 lead at half time and a large reason for that was the work of the big men on the glass. The Nets out rebounded the Celtics 26-17 in the fist half and they were particularly impressive picking up offensive boards as they had 15 offensive rebounds against the Celtics 11 defensive boards. They spread the love around too with Humphries, Johnson, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche all with at least four boards. Lopez only had three but chipped in with a pair of blocked shots.
CELTICS GO ON A 20-2 RUN: As the Nets have been doing for most of the season, they struggled in the third quarter and were outscored 29-15 with the Celtics peeling off a 20-2 run at one point. The bench was mostly at fault here as C.J. Watson, Evans, Blatche, and MarShon Brooks combined to shoot 0-for-7. D-Will and Joe Johnson both seemed to be forcing bad shots to make up for the bench and combined to shoot 3-for-9 for the quarter. D-Wills 2-for-3 from behind the arc kept the Nets from completely collapsing though.
4TH QUARTER COMEBACK: The Nets made their comeback in the fourth quarter though when Joe Johnson finally woke up and shot 3-6 from the floor for nine points. Brook Lopez, who didn’t nearly get enough looks all night, went 3-3 with a big seven points.
FREE THROWS MADE THE DIFFERENCE: I love a good free throw shooter because they end up being huge in games like this. D-Will went 0-for-4 from the floor in the final quarter, but 6-for-6 from the line. Meanwhile for the Celtics, Paul Pierce missed a couple big free throws and Jason Terry another pair. Considering the two teams were separated by just four points most of the time during the final stretch, if Pierce and Terry hit those shots this could be a totally different ending.
BOTTOM LINE: It wasn’t very pretty, but it was exciting and the bottom line is that the Nets came away with a win. Was it the statement they were trying to make? No. But they managed to keep from embarrassing themselves and they improved to 5-2 on the season with a four game winning streak. This just means the next time they face the Celtics that game will be even bigger.
UP NEXT: The Nets make their first West Coast trip of the season as they head out to California to take on the Sacramento Kings. It’s a 6:00 p.m. game on YES. Hopefully Gerald Wallace will be back by then.