The Brooklyn Nets got back on the right track Tuesday with a surprising 129-120 overtime road win over the Boston Celtics, who were playing without Jayson Tatum.
While the Celtics led by 21 points in the second half, Caris LeVert led a furious comeback for the Nets and sent the game to overtime with three free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining.
LeVert scored 37 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined to reach a career-high 51 points.
The Nets closed out the win in overtime at TD Garden and snapped a four-game losing streak in the process. The 27-33 squad has played well enough to hold a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and continues to show it can be dangerous down the stretch.
The Celtics (41-19) were shorthanded as Tatum was out with an illness and Gordon Hayward left early with a knee contusion, but Kemba Walker returned to the court for the first time since the All-Star break and finished with 21 points in 23 minutes.
Still, the late charge from Brooklyn was enough to hand Boston a second straight home loss.
- Caris LeVert, G, Nets: 51 points, 17-of-26 from the field
- Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Nets: 14 points, 4 assists
- Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G, Nets: 16 points, 8 rebounds
- Kemba Walker, G, Celtics: 21 points, 3 assists
- Marcus Smart, G, Celtics: 14 points, 10 assists
- Jaylen Brown, G, Celtics: 22 points, 5 rebounds
Celtics Depth Not Enough to Pull Out Win
Most NBA teams would struggle with an All-Star like Tatum out. Considering one of the Celtics' top four scorers also left because of an injury (Hayward) and another was on a minutes restriction (Walker), it could have put the team in a tough position.
However, Boston's depth was on display throughout the game against Brooklyn:
Twelve different players scored for Boston and 13 saw at least five minutes of action. The Celtics totaled 40 bench points after getting only four in Saturday's overtime loss to the Houston Rockets.
The regular go-to options still came through with strong performances, including Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown:
The problems came in the fourth quarter when the defense collapsed and no one was able to respond.
Tatum and Hayward were unavailable, while Smart eventually fouled out in overtime. The Celtics had no one to rely on for offense, which led to the brutal defeat.
To compete for a championship, Boston will need other players to become leaders late in games.
Caris LeVert's Late-Game Heroics Lift Nets
It just didn't seem like the Nets' night.
Brooklyn was 4-of-18 from three-point range in the first half and only 8-of-34 after three quarters. LeVert also hadn't done much, with 14 points going into the fourth quarter as the Nets trailed by 17.
However, things changed in the final period as LeVert took over.
LeVert totaled 26 points in the fourth quarter and then all 11 of his team's points in overtime to steal the win.
The squad's usual suspects were nowhere to be found down the stretch, with Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris sitting in favor of players like Chris Chiozza, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Rodions Kurucs.
This ended up being the perfect move for head coach Kenny Atkinson, as the Nets stormed back for the tie and eventually pulled out the win.
LeVert was the true hero, as he seemingly couldn't miss in the final 17 minutes of action. He tied the game on the clutch free throws and wouldn't be stopped in overtime.
Both teams will have to get out of town quickly before their next games Wednesday. The Nets will return home to face the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Celtics will travel to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.