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Kevin Durant, James Harden Lead Nets to Dominant Win vs. Marcus Smart, Celtics

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IINovember 25, 2021

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets led by as many as 29 points en route to a 123-104 road win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday evening at TD Garden.

Brooklyn guard Patty Mills scored 23 points to lead all scorers, and Kevin Durant (21) and James Harden (20) complemented that effort for the 14-5 Nets, who never trailed en route to their fourth straight win.

The Eastern Conference leaders shot 50.6 percent from the field and sported a 29:10 assist-to-turnover ratio.

This was an off-night for the 10-9 Celtics, whose three-game winning streak snapped. Boston shot 37.4 percent from the field (22.9 percent from three-point range).

Jayson Tatum notably struggled, shooting 4-of-16 (1-of-9 from beyond the arc) en route to 15 points and five turnovers.

Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown, who returned to the court Monday after missing eight games with a hamstring strain, played Wednesday and scored 13 points in 24 minutes.

     

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Notable Performances

Nets G Patty Mills: 23 points

Nets F Kevin Durant: 21 points, 8 assists

Nets PG James Harden: 20 points, 11 assists

Nets F/C LaMarcus Aldridge: 17 points, 9 rebounds

Celtics G Marcus Smart: 20 points, 8 assists

Celtics F Jayson Tatum: 15 points, 8 rebounds

Celtics G/F Jaylen Brown: 13 points, 5 rebounds

Celtics G Dennis Schroder: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists

   

Nets Offense Puts on Another Clinic

The Nets have averaged 116.0 points per game since an ugly 117-99 home loss to the Golden State Warriors, which saw both benches clear early.

Since that matchup, Brooklyn has been sensational, with Wednesday's performance serving as the apex.

Ball movement was on point all night, with Harden dishing 11 of the Nets' 29 assists.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

oh James that is NICE 👀 <a href="https://t.co/bOhKBnGEtS">pic.twitter.com/bOhKBnGEtS</a>

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

came out of half with an appetite for buckets <a href="https://t.co/p6ID3Iqcwo">pic.twitter.com/p6ID3Iqcwo</a>

Kevin Durant didn't make a three-pointer, but that was completely irrelevant on a night when he finished 8-of-12 from two-point range, nailed five of six free throws and had eight assists of his own.

He did work in the mid-range and passed Basketball Hall of Famer Allen Iverson on the all-time scoring list along the way:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

He keeps climbing through history. <a href="https://t.co/ENtsxfZ7Vz">pic.twitter.com/ENtsxfZ7Vz</a>

Durant also had some strong finishes at the rim, per usual:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

KEVIN DURANT TO THE RACK. <a href="https://t.co/kXe2Q2iDwr">pic.twitter.com/kXe2Q2iDwr</a>

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

KD strong to the rim 💪 <a href="https://t.co/jg4KpRvWmR">pic.twitter.com/jg4KpRvWmR</a>

Meanwhile, Patty Mills continued to be scorching-hot from three, knocking down seven of 10 on the night. Harden and Durant put him in position to succeed, and Mills delivered even if Boston was quick to close out on the veteran.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

we FEASTIN' <a href="https://t.co/8IBlJgggmc">pic.twitter.com/8IBlJgggmc</a>

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

<a href="https://t.co/R1AfUB68ww">pic.twitter.com/R1AfUB68ww</a>

The rest of the Nets made box score dents, with LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 17 points and Cam Thomas adding 13 off the bench. DeAndre' Bembry had nine points on just five shots in addition to 10 rebounds and three steals.

Overall, it was another great night for the Nets, who now lead the East by a full two games.

        

Rough Nights for Boston's All-Star Duo as C's Can't Buy a Bucket

It's been a frustrating season of ups and downs for the Celtics, who have now gone 46-45 in regular-season play in the past two years.

This 10-9 team looked like a second-division squad to start this year as Boston started 2-5, but the C's bounced back to go 8-3 in their next 11 games.

That set up an exciting matchup with the Nets, but the C's are clearly not in their class.

A 17-0 second-half run only closed the gap to 12 points in the fourth quarter. Boston trailed by double-digits for the entirety of the third and fourth quarters. The C's never led and were only tied on two occasions: 0-0 and 3-3 after Al Horford knocked down an early three.

The C's simply couldn't hit their threes, making just 11 of 48 on the night. Tatum and Brown went just 1-of-17 between them, with the former player's poor shooting also leading to a minus-33 on-court performance.

Granted, Brown is working his way back from injury, so some rust is likely inevitable as the All-Star returns to peak form. Tatum also came into this game averaging 33.5 points in his last four outings, so it's not as if he's been dragging the team down with him.

Rather, the C's have followed his lead as they pulled themselves out of an early-season hole.

Still, this was a disappointing night for the C's, who are still learning to play together after an offseason front-office and coaching upheaval alongside some roster changes.

Boston simply isn't going to win many games shooting 22.9 percent from three-point range, let alone against the Eastern Conference's top offense.

The key is whether Boston can turn this into a blip on the radar screen as opposed to sliding back under .500. If the C's play to their potential, the Nets game should be pushed way back in their rearview mirror as the 2021 calendar year closes.

      

What's Next?

Boston will visit the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Brooklyn will host the Phoenix Suns on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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