Ford Keys to the Game: Nets 85, Celtics 79
Nets 85, Celtics 79 - Boston, MA
By Marc D'Amico, January 26, 2014
There’s no doubt that the Celtics will be a better team in crunch time with Rajon Rondo back in the fold. Eventually.
Sunday night’s 85-79 loss to the Nets was not an example of Boston improving down the stretch with Rondo in the lineup. In fact, he was on the wrong end of the most important play of the game.
The Celtics trailed by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter but crawled back to within three points after Rondo nailed a 3-pointer with just more than a minute remaining on the clock. They were then given an opportunity to tie the game up after forcing Joe Johnson into a miss on Brooklyn’s ensuing possession.
Brad Stevens called for a timeout after Rondo grabbed the rebound off of Johnson’s miss and advanced the ball into the frontcourt. The whistle blew with 35.6 seconds remaining in the game.
The first-year coach put the ball in his captain’s hands during the most important possession of the game. Rondo took the inbound pass and came off of a couple of screens but couldn’t find any open teammates for a shot. He was stuck around the free-throw line and attempted to kick the ball out to Brandon Bass to reset the play at the top of the key.
Problem is, Kevin Garnett’s lanky arms were in the way.
Garnett reached out and picked off his former teammate’s pass and took it the length of the court for an uncontested layup. That bucket put Brooklyn on top by five with 17.3 seconds remaining. Boston did score again with a Brandon Bass jumper, but the Nets iced the game with three free throws in the final eight seconds.
Key Box Score Line
The public found out about an hour and a half before tip-off that Brandon Bass would return to the starting lineup for the Boston Celtics. What a great decision by Brad Stevens.
Bass was inserted into the starting lineup to allow the Celtics to match up with Brooklyn’s small ball lineup, which features Paul Pierce at power forward. Bass has shown over the years to be more than capable of matching up with forwards like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, who compare well to Pierce. No. 30 proved again Sunday night that he can handle that difficult task.
Boston’s starting power forward finished tied for the game high in both scoring, with 17 points, and rebounding, with eight boards. He shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and made five of his six free throws.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the court, Bass was a defensive stopper against Pierce. He played a key role in limiting Pierce to just six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Box Score Nuggets
- Brandon Bass and Andray Blatche tied for the game high in scoring with 17 points apiece.
- Boston committed 18 turnovers while dishing out just 17 assists
- Three of Brooklyn's starters, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, scored six points apiece.
- Rajon Rondo nearly tallied a triple-double with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
- Rondo also committed six turnovers.
- There were only two ties and three lead changes in the game.
- Neither team shot better than 39.3 percent from the field.
- Jared Sullinger grabbed four offensive rebounds.
- Deron Williams scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.
- Both teams scored 26 points in the fourth quarter.
- The Celtics scored just 26 points in the paint.
Quote of the Night
I think we'll always bleed green as long as we're playing basketball, as long as we're living. Even when they bury us six feet under. Kevin Garnett on where the Celtics stand in his heartMore quotes >>