Despite Late Momentum, Nets Fall to Celtics 109-105

By Cory Wright

The Brooklyn Nets and their coach were in agreement after Wednesday’s 109-105 preseason loss to the Boston Celtics.

It was a tale of two halves.

“[In the] first half we came out and we were not aggressive and they took the fight to us,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “In the second half we came out and we were the aggressor and we took the fight to them.”

The Nets trailed 54-43 at the half, when Hollins delivered a rousing halftime speech to his players. They responded by outscoring the Celtics 62-55 in the second half, at times narrowing the deficit to four points.

“We didn’t have great energy in the first half,” said Brook Lopez. “To give ourselves a chance, we’re going to have to take advantage of our youth and athleticism. We have to be scrappy. That being said in the second half we came out, played a lot looser. Our guys were confident. We were a little more up-tempo, not really thinking as much, just trying to play to guys strengths and get it going.”

Lopez recorded 11 of his 12 points in the third quarter, largely by going 7-8 from the line. Joe Johnson also recorded six of his eight points in the third quarter, while Thaddeus Young scored seven of his team-high 19 points. Shane Larkin, who started the game at point guard said running the offense through the two big men worked in the short term, but also showed offensive potential.

“That third quarter really showed a lot of the potential what we have as a group,” Larkin said. “We dug in offensively and defensively and showed the potential we have as a unit if we’re playing together, playing with enough energy offensively and defensively.”

Coach Hollins agreed, saying he thought the first group played extremely well.

As for Larkin, the 23-year-old scored (10 points) for the second time this preseason, playing 28:54 – a personal preseason high. Larkin started the game, but really saw his minutes take off after Jarrett Jack was ejected early in the second quarter for a flagrant-2 foul on Boston’s Jonas Jerebko.

“It was a frustration foul and a little more than I intended to do,” Jack said. “I thought the ref made the proper call about what happened.”

Amir Johnson led the Celtics with 19 points, while Isaiah Thomas hit three threes en route to a 17-point night. Kelly Olynyk and RJ Hunter each posted 11 points off the bench for Boston, who improved to 3-0 in preseason play.

The Nets take the court again on Sunday at 1 p.m., when they host the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center.

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