Down 13 points in the first quarter, the Brooklyn Nets raced back to a second-quarter lead and a halftime tie.
Down 13 points in the third quarter, the Nets surged back again within a point with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
But there was no comeback from the run that came next, a 10-0 burst from the Boston Celtics as the Nets dropped a 109-102 final at Barclays Center on Tuesday night.
“They’re obviously a great team, and whenever it would seem like we were able to make a run, they would come back with a run of their own,” said Joe Harris. “It just goes to show, when you play against good teams, or great teams in fact, you can’t just have little strings here and there. You’ve got to have the complete game, and that’s what we were lacking. We had some good stretches, but we just didn’t play a complete game like we needed to.”
With the Celtics back up 92-82 with six minutes to go, the Nets got a pair of threes from Allen Crabbe to close within 95-91. But Boston’s Kyrie Irving, back in the game after nearly a full quarter on the bench, curled off a screen for a jumper and then busted down the lane for a basket.
Irving, who finished with a game-high 25 points, played with a protective facemask after suffering a facial fracture on Friday and missing a game on Sunday. The Celtics won their 13th straight game.
“They made tough shots down the stretch,” said Crabbe. “Made more plays than us down the stretch. That’s all you can really say. The ball went their way tonight.”
For the Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie notched a career-high 11 assists while starting in place of injured D’Angelo Russell and committed just one turnover. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds.
THREES FROM THREE
The Nets shot 41 percent from 3-point range, getting 12 of their 14 makes — on 34 attempts — from three players.
Joe Harris (5-10 3-point range) led the Nets with 19 points, Allen Crabbe (5-8) had 15 points and Caris LeVert (2-2) had 15 points while shooting 6-of-7 overall.
It was a career-high scoring night for Harris, who missed his first three 3-point attempts before heating up, He was in the middle of two big Nets surges, with a pair of threeS in the second quarter and two more in the opening minutes of the fourth.
Harris and Crabbe became the first Nets to make five 3-pointers in a game this season.
“I thought it was a real positive of the game,” said coach Kenny Atkinson of Crabbe’s shooting. “The ball’s going to find him. The ball finds energy. So he did a good job. Collectively I thought we did a good job finding him, screening for him.”
The Nets were down 17-4 midway through the first quarter as the Celtics came out sharp, making six of their first eight shots. But over the next 15 minutes, Brooklyn outscored Boston by 19 points, 39-20.
Late in the first quarter, Caris LeVert scored seven straight Brooklyn points with a 3-pointer, a drive to the hoop and a steal that led to a dunk.
“We had a lot of periods where we were really good moving it,” said coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought Caris gave us a big boost. He’s able to break down the switches when they do switch. He can go by guys, go by their bigs when they do switch.”
Joe Harris knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and an Allen Crabbe 3-pointer brought the Nets within one, 37-36. Coming out of a timeout, Crabbe came up with a steal and fed LeVert for a layup that gave Brooklyn its first lead of the game.
Trevor Booker spun through the lane for a basket, DeMarre Carroll knocked down a 3 and the Nets had a 14-0 run and a 43-37 lead.
“When we play the way that we’re supposed to, playing together, playing with the pass, the way that Kenny and the rest of the staff preaches, we get good shots and everybody gets touches,” said Harris.
FOURTH QUARTER RALLY
Trailing 80-67 in the final minute of the third quarter, the Nets outscored Boston 14-2 over the next three minutes to close within 82-81 with just under 10 minutes to go. Joe Harris had a pair of threes in the run and Caris LeVert had six points, including a 3-pointer and a wild spin off the backboard as his momentum carried him away from the rim in transition.
THIRD QUARTER BLUES
The Nets were up 65-61 midway through the third quarter when the Celtics broke out with a 19-2 run that put them up 80-67.
“I thought the third quarter really kind of got us,” said coach Kenny Atkinson. “Really it was our offense. We turned the ball over four times I believe. Eight for 23 from the field. Credit to them. They turned up their defense and we couldn’t handle it. We didn’t handle it.”
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