Celtics

Celtics lose to Nets as third-stringers blow lead in final minutes

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Celtics lose to Nets as third-stringers blow lead in final minutes

BOSTON Every now and then, Paul Pierce reminds us all why he's considered a professional scorer.

It took him just 12 minutes to drop 20 points on the Brooklyn Nets.

Even with a big scoring game from Pierce and the Nets playing without their big Three - Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson - the C's still couldn't put Brooklyn away as the Nets rallied in the closing minutes for a 97-96 win.

Brooklyn closed out the game by scoring seven of the game's last eight points for the win as the C's had their core guys on the bench while most of their end-of-the-bench players saw some mop-up duty.

Boston (1-4) had multiple chances to squeak out a victory in a game that they controlled for most of the night, but continued to come up short.

With 27 seconds to play, the C's had the ball and trailed 96-95.

Following a time-out, Jason Collins was fouled with 23.8 seconds to play.

Collins made the first free throw, but missed the second which was rebounded by the Nets with 22.9 seconds to play and the score tied at 96.

Brooklyn's Stephen Dennis was fouled going to the basket with five seconds to play.

He missed both free throws, but Nets big man Mirza Teletovic grabbed the rebounded and was immediately fouled by Rob Kurz.

Teletovic made the first of two free throws as the C's grabbed the loose ball and called a time-out with 3.6 seconds to play.

Following the time-out, Courtney Lee's lob attempt to Micah Downs failed as the ball sailed out of bounds with 1.3 seconds to play.

The C's had one last shot to steal back the game, but Kris Joseph's desperation heave was well off the mark as time expired.

Boston opened the with a 9-2 run, but soon saw their lead - and control of the game - swing in Brooklyn's favor as the Nets outscored them 23-12 to end the first with a 25-21 lead.

The second quarter was one in which the C's played from behind most of the quarter, but a barrage of jumpers by Paul Pierce brought the Celtics back and eventually propelled them to a 49-47 lead at the half.

Pierce's hot hand didn't cool off in the third quarter as Boston pushed its lead to double digits before settling on an 83-74 lead going into the fourth quarter.

He led all scorers with 29 points that came in just 27 minutes of action.

In addition to Pierce, Boston also got a nice scoring lift from Courtney Lee who has had his problems shooting the ball throughout the preseason. He finished with 13 points, five of which came in the third.

Orchestrating all this hot shooting for the C's was Rajon Rondo, who was having a very Rondo-like night in putting up numbers in several categories. Although he scored just five points, he also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a game-high 11 assists.

Boston's strong play in the third came with head coach Doc Rivers back in the locker room where he was presumably watching the game on TV, or he may have done a little channel surfing and checked out the second presidential debate.

Regardless, the Celtics once again showcased how diverse they can be with their lineup.

But with Kevin Garnett back on the floor (Rivers gave him the night off on Monday because of Boston's back-to-back games), the Celtics had an edge about them that only Garnett and his presence can provide.

So when you take strong play defensively and add Pierce knocking down open and contested shots, the Celtics are a tough team to beat - preseason or not.

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the Magic at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

MORE CELTICS:

A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).

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