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Celtics 110, Nets 91

Celtics find shooting touch vs. woeful Nets

Evan Turner and Nets guard Jarrett Jack battled for the ball in the first half. Turner was called for a foul.Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

NEW YORK — After a disheartening overtime loss Sunday to the Pistons, the Celtics spent the first four minutes lagging around Monday night against the Nets, looking totally uninterested in a critical matchup with a primary competitor for the final two playoff spots.

Even with the return of Marcus Smart and a night to lament a bitter loss, the Celtics appeared ill-prepared.

After a timeout, the Celtics executed a stirring turnaround, turning on the defensive intensity, going at defensively challenged Brook Lopez in the paint, and using sparkling all-around performances from Evan Turner and Kelly Olynyk to coast to a 110-91 win at Barclays Center.


Boston led for the final 29:03, staving off Brooklyn rallies while playing itself right back into a playoff slot. The Celtics are now eighth in the Eastern Conference, a half-game game ahead of the Hornets and one game ahead of the Pacers.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak and gave the Celtics much-needed momentum heading into a key week of games with Miami, the Knicks, and the Clippers. Boston simply played harder than the stumbling Nets, who looked lethargic and tired in stretches despite having the previous day off.

Besides Lopez (31), the next-highest Brooklyn scorer was Thaddeus Young with 12. The Celtics held Brooklyn to 36-percent shooting and 1-for-17 3-point shooting.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t know if such an effort was possible after the shaky beginning.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be one of those nights or if it was going to be something we could get out of,” Stevens said. “The most concerning part was I thought we were slow to the ball. Defensively, I hate to use the ‘T’ word. We looked tired, but we had a bench that was ready and our starters were ready to go back in after that.”


Turner finished with his second triple-double in the past month, with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Avery Bradley tallied 20 points, continuing his sparkling play in the NBA’s newest arena, while Olynyk scored 18 in 17 minutes off the bench.

Perhaps the key to the game was an Olynyk jumper that ended the first half. The 3-pointer from the top of the key hit the front rim, caromed off the backboard and into the hoop for a 54-49 lead. Afterward, Olynyk exhaled and then slapped hands with Turner. He followed with 12 points in just 7:43 in the second half.

“Me and Phil [Pressey] were talking about those rolls where it pops up and goes in,” Olynyk said. “I told Phil, ‘I’m going to get one of those one day’ and it happened. Seeing the ball go through the net, especially like that, you got a break. It gives you a little bit of a lift.”

The Celtics used a 9-0 run beginning at the 8:30 mark of the third quarter to extend their lead to 71-57 after a Jae Crowder putback. The Nets then rallied behind the interior domination of Lopez and the wizardry of Deron Williams, whose crafty runner and free throw cut it to 75-69 with 2:26 left.

Olynyk later followed with a 5-foot jumper, and then a 3-pointer off a fast break appeared to give the second-year forward confidence. The Celtics carried an 83-74 lead into the final period and then pulled away in the fourth quarter.


Turner had no career triple-doubles until notching his first on Feb. 25 against the Knicks. He now has two in the span of 15 games and his aggression was apparent Monday night. He scored 8 points in the second period on 4-for-5 shooting as the Celtics took the lead for good.

“The offense has definitely been clicking,” Turner said. “I’ve been able to earn minutes of late and I’ve been able to play in situations the whole year when I’ve been able to get comfortable and that’s been working well for me.

Said Stevens: “He knows how to play and every night he fills the box score. He was good making decisions off pick-and-roll. He was aggressive from the start.”

After the Celtics fell behind, 11-4, they found a rhythm defensively and began making half-court offensive execution difficult for the Nets. Although Brooklyn led, 28-23, after the first period, it shot just 34.6 percent from the field.

Boston’s issue — as it has been for weeks — is fouling. The Celtics sent the Nets to the line nine times in the first quarter, including on two occasions on fouls 30 feet from the basket in the penalty.

But the Celtics made adjustments, curtailed the fouls, and began to take control. The Nets finished 1-3 against the Celtics this season and coach Lionel Hollins admitted his team had no answer for the Celtics’ versatility.

“We don’t match up with them very well,” he said. “We have in preseason. In regular season we beat them once up there. We had to come down from 10 to do it. I’m not disappointed in the way our effort was, I’m disappointed in the loss. We couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t score. They ran the same play down the stretch and we had trouble defending it.”


Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.