JB's Career Night in Brooklyn Sparks C’s Season-Best Defensive Effort

After setting season highs in the scoring and rebounding department Friday night against Miami, Jaylen Brown continued his hot stretch into Brooklyn Sunday night with his second straight 30-point double-double along with a career-best shot-blocking performance.

The Boston Celtics opened a six-game road trip riding Brown’s 34-point, 10-rebound, four-block, two-steal, zero-turnover effort to a 103-92 win over the Nets just two nights following a 37-point, 14-rebound, five-assist effort against the Heat.

Carrying his scoring momentum into Barclays Center, the star wing dropped 20 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting from 3-point range in the first quarter to give him a total of 57 points and 10 3-point makes over a five-quarter span. That got the Celtics off to a 35-28 lead after one frame.

“I was just being aggressive, coming out, making them have to guard me,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin postgame. “I got it going and just kept it going.”

After that first-quarter eruption, it was time for Boston’s defense to get it going. The C’s held Brooklyn to just 65 points in the final three frames and 92 in total. It was both the fewest points allowed by the Celtics and the fewest points scored by Brooklyn all season.

Brown’s defensive efforts had a lot to do with that. He blocked a shot in all four quarters, accounting for nearly half of Boston’s nine swats on the night. JB entered the night having not blocked a shot since Oct. 24 in Chicago. He had six blocks in his first four games, zero in his next 17, and then four Sunday night.

Interim head coach Joe Mazzulla said of the team's rim protection, “It gives us live-ball opportunities to get out and run, get out in our transition game, and it’s less opportunity for a guy to get a shot up. So I’m just proud of the way our guys defended.”

Last year’s Celtics prided themselves on the defensive end, but there have been some slippages in that area this season, partly due to the absence of All-Defensive big man Rob Williams. Fortunately, Boston’s record-setting offense has been enough to keep them atop the league standings, but they’ve still been trying to make strides on the other end, and Sunday was a good step in that direction.

Brown wasn’t alone in his defensive prowess; Al Horford blocked three shots, Jayson Tatum snagged four steals, and Grant Williams logged three steaks.

“I think that’s what we’ve been putting emphasis on,” Brown said of the defense. “We’ve been scoring the ball at a high clip, record-breaking numbers, but defensively we can’t let that rope slip. So tonight was a great game. I think me and Jay (29 points, 11 rebounds, four steals) did a great job playing both sides of the ball tonight and when we lead the way, everybody else joins in.”

JB and JT combined for 63 points, 21 rebounds, six steals, and four blocks, which is just about as good of a dual two-way performance as two teammates can have.

Often Tatum gets most of the praise of the two, as he showed in earning Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November, but Brown has been playing like an MVP candidate too, of late. He’s shot at least 50 percent from the field in 11 of his last 12 games, during which time he’s averaged 28.7 points per game.

To see Brown get going on the defensive end, as well, Sunday night was a nice development and a good omen to start off a six-game road trip.

“Hopefully he stays as hot as he is,” said Tatum, “because we need it.”