Nets 97, Celtics 96
It looked as if the Boston Celtics had their second victory of the preseason in the bag with four minutes remaining in Tuesday night’s contest against the Brooklyn Nets. They led by 10 points with 3:57 remaining when stand-in coach Armond Hill pulled all of his core guys off of the floor and replaced them with four rookies and veteran journeyman Jason Collins.
There’s a ton of talent in the fivesome of Kris Joseph, Micah Downs, Rob Kurz, Fab Melo and Collins, but there was one key piece missing from that group, as Hill pointed out after the game.
“As far as the end, I put all the guys in and I didn’t have any point guards in,” Hill explained.
Boston’s offense floundered without a single player on the floor who possesses anything close to point guard skills. Joseph, a natural small forward, handled the point guard duties for most of the ensuing possessions and the C’s managed just three points over those final four minutes of the game. They forced up several early shots and turned the ball over at a high rate.
It’s not like Brooklyn had its starters in the game, but when you can’t score points and you give the ball up to the opponent like the Celtics did, bad things are bound to happen. Boston’s 10-point lead disappeared in what seemed like an instant. The Nets went on a 12-2 run, capped by a three-point play Tornike Shengelia, to tie the game up at 95-95.
Brooklyn still needed some luck in the final minute to grab the win. The Nets overcame two critical missed free throws and a very makeable shot by the Celtics in the final seconds that would have won the game. That luck helped, but what really changed this game was when Hill pulled his core players with 3:57 left on the clock.
Key Box Score Line
Paul Pierce is hitting his stride. The Brooklyn Nets found that out first-hand Tuesday night.
Pierce followed up his 16-point effort from Monday night in Philadelphia with an incredible 29-point game Tuesday night against the Nets. He was dominant for the entirety of his 26:46 of playing time, shooting 10-of-17 from the field and grabbing five boards. He made six of his eight 3-point attempts and all three of his free throws.
Whenever you play major minutes and you point total is higher than your minute total, you know you had a good night. Pierce can head home knowing that he qualifies for such a statement.
Box Score Nuggets
- All five of Boston's starters finished with a positive plus/minus rating and all eight reserves finished with a negative plus/minus rating.
- Paul Pierce scored a game-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
- Pierce shot 6-of-8 from downtown.
- Rajon Rondo racked up a preseason high of 11 assists.
- Boston shot 9-of-20 from 3-point range.
- Brooklyn made just 15 of its 27 free throws.
- Jeff Green scored 14 points off the bench for Boston.
- Andray Blatche led the Nets with 23 points.
- Reggie Evans grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
- Kevin Garnett recorded three blocks in just 14 minutes of play.
- The Celtics scored 17 fast break points to Brooklyn's nine.
Quote of the Night
Armond Hill on what Doc Rivrs told him at halftime: "He just came to me and said, 'Armond, you're coaching the second half.' "