Entering the All-Star break, the Celtics were riding a four-game winning streak and had the momentum that had eluded them for most of the first half of the season. That momentum came to a screeching halt Thursday night in Brooklyn, with a 121-109 loss to the Nets.
The main thorn in the Celtics’ side Thursday night? That would be Kyrie Irving, of course. The former Celtic scored 40 points, including 22 in the second half. Down the stretch, he seemed to hit a big basket every time the Celtics were starting to get into a rhythm.
Opening the game with a ton of energy, the Celtics quickly doubled up the Net 13-6. That forced Brooklyn into a timeout just four minutes into the game. Even with the pause, Boston extended its lead to double digits late in the quarter. However, the Nets closed the frame on a 7-2 run, making the score 29-23 after one.
That run extended into the second quarter, and the Nets came back to tie the game with what eventually was a 22-11 stretch. The Celtics held them off for a few minutes, but Brooklyn finally grabbed a lead on a pair of Kyrie Irving free throws with just under 5:00 to play in the half. They’d stretch that advantage to as much as seven, but led by just three at halftime, 58-55.
With a 9-0 run to open the third quarter, the Celtics regained the lead and momentum. Yet once again, the Nets came storming back to flip the scoreboard midway through the quarter, but the Celtics stuck with them punch-for-punch. Heading into the fourth quarter, Brooklyn led 88-86.
The Nets started the fourth with a 10-2 run, which the Celtics answered with a 7-0 run of their own, keeping things close as the game entered the final six minutes. Boston got as close as two points with three minutes to play, but never got over the horizon as the Nets closed on a 12-3 run.
Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics, with a team high 31 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Finishing second in team scoring was Marcus Smart, who played for the first time since injuring his quad in late January. He had 19 points on 4-of-6 shooting while getting to the line nine times. Coming off the bench and playing under a minutes restriction as he recovers from the injury, he was on the floor for 21 minutes.
Robert Williams proved to be another bright spot for the Celtics. He blocked six shots – tied for his career-high – in just 17 minutes.
It was a rough night for two of the Celtics’ top scorers, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker. Brown had 13 points on 5-of-23 shooting, and went 3-of-12 from deep. Walker started hot with nine points in the first quarter, but didn’t score again until the fourth. He finished with 11 points and was 5-of-12 from the floor.
With the loss, the Celtics fall to 19-18. The team is now 7-13 on the road, with another away game up next against the Houston Rockets. That one tips off at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, with pregame coverage starting at 7:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.