Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK – With a national television audience watching on Christmas Day, it’s going to be hard to sweep this effort under the rug.
The Nets went up six points in the first quarter, but by halftime, they were down by 14. A 23-5 run spanning 6:12 of the second quarter gave the Boston Celtics the lead and control for good as they went on to a 93-76 win over the Nets at Barclays Center in the third meeting this season between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Nets had won the previous two.
Rajon Rondo led the way for the Celtics with a game-high 19 points, six rebounds and five assists against just one turnover in 36 minutes, while Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green finished with 16 points and 15 points, respectively for the Nets.
Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez each finished with 15 points for the Nets, who shot just 35.4 percent (17-for-48) after the first quarter. After beginning the year 11-4 in November, the Nets are now 3-9 in December.
“This one hurts,” Wallace said. “We didn’t play our game, we didn’t make shots, our defense just wasn’t there tonight. A loss is a loss.”
The Nets went up, 18-12, after a Lopez layup with 4:26 to play in the opening quarter. That would be their biggest lead of the afternoon as Lopez and his teammates would be in for a long rest of the day.
A 3-pointer from Jerry Stackhouse put the Nets up 29-26 early in the second quarter. From there, the Celtics ripped off 10 straight points to open the 23-5 run and take a 36-29 lead. In the middle of those 10 straight points, the Nets shot 0-for-6 from the field. In the second quarter alone, the Nets shot 7-for-19 and after leading by two points after one, trailed 56-42 at halftime.
“Whatever we did, when we got the shots we wanted and they didn’t go down,” Nets head coach Avery Johnson said. “We’ve just had some issues when we try to sub our starters out, we’ve just had some inconsistency when we tend to substitute a little bit. At one time, we had a pretty good second team anchored by Joe (Johnson), but sometimes, when Joe goes the whole first quarter when we need him in there, we sit him down (in the second quarter). We’ve had some issues with different lineups that’s been in the game.”
The Nets’ bench shot just 8-for-23 with the typically-reliable Andray Blatche as the biggest culprit. The 6-foot-11 reserve power forward scored just six points and shot 3-for-9 while hauling in seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
After a scuffle involving Rondo, Garnett, Wallace and Kris Humphries marred the last game between the two teams on Nov. 28 in Boston, another mini-altercation ensued on Tuesday, but without the same ramifications as a result.
With 9:31 to play in the game, Wallace hauled in an offensive rebound at the rim, went back up and was fouled. On the way down, he grabbed on to Garnett’s shorts in what appeared to be an attempt to break his fall or regain his balance. Garnett took offense to Wallace’s grabbing and some minor pushing ensued that involved Blatche and the Celtics’ Courtney Lee.
The play was broken up and after the officials conferred, offsetting double technical fouls were handed out to Wallace and Garnett, in addition to Blatche and Lee.
Wallace refused to address the incident after the game.
In the Nov. 28 game, Humphries committed what Rondo believed to be a hard foul on Garnett with 29.5 seconds left in the first half. Rondo shoved Humphries and the incident spilled into the seats right behind the basket. Rondo was suspended two games without pay, Garnett was fined $25,000 and Wallace was clipped for $35,000 for their roles in the incident.
Later in the fourth, Sullinger was hit with a Flagrant 1 for a hard foul on Wallace. The new got tangled up on the way down, were broken up quickly and no technical fouls were handed out.
D-Will vs. Defense
On a day Deron Williams struggled offensively, his teammates did not hit enough shots to pick up the slack. The Celtics’ defense deserves most of the credit for both Williams struggling and no one selse hitting shots.
The franchise point guard has admitted he has struggled this season, going as far as to say a few weeks ago that he hasn’t played a good game yet this season. Tuesday was something new for Williams as he attempted just seven shots as he scored 10 points to go along with six assists and four turnovers. For the season, he is averaging 16.8 points, 8.1 assists and 3.0 turnovers.
“They were doubling me everywhere, on pick-and-rolls, off screens, so my job as a point guard, when there are two people on me, I’ve got to move the ball,” Williams said. “I wasn’t able to be as aggressive as I’d like to be offensively. We had a lot of open shots we normally knock down, we had a lot shots around the basket, we just didn’t do a good job of finishing, converting. A lot of it was due to their defense, so you have to give them credit.”
The Nets are now 4-4 on Christmas Day games, including a 1968 loss while still a member of the ABA….The Celtics moved to 12-17 on Christmas Day. Of the 29 games the franchise has played on Dec. 25, 28 of them have been on the road….The 20 turnovers committed by the Nets were the second-most this season, trailing only the 22 they had against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 9….Coaches, players and scorer’s table staff wore green ribbons in remembrance of the lives lost during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“I think it’s already a concern, there’s no way around that. We feel like we could be a good team. We feel like we have some good wins and there’s a reason we had those wins. We were playing together, we were helping each other out on both ends of the floor. Coach (Johnson) has been talking about trust, trusting each other on the court and I think we’ve gotten a little bit away from that.”–Deron Williams on the Nets’ 3-9 record in December after an 11-4 November
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA