Celtics power into all-star break with biggest blowout of season over Nets 136-86

Celtics power into all-star break with biggest blowout of season over Nets 136-86


BOSTON — Joe Mazzulla doesn’t like the all-star break. He doesn’t understand why they take one. If he had a choice, NBA teams wouldn’t even hold a halftime. They’d just keep playing.

The Celtics’ players felt differently, Jrue Holiday begrudging a two city back-to-back last night before storming out of the locker room with a 68-32 first half bent on beginning the break early. Jayson Tatum and Derrick White wore big head bands and played freely, Tatum’s idea, then getting off the ball and letting their teammates do the work before catching-add-scoring late. White poured on 11 of Boston’s 13 points in the final three minutes before the buzzer in the second quarter. No wonder Mazzulla didn’t want to stop.

Boston won, 136-86, on Wednesday, nearly holding the Nets to a season-low by an NBA team for points in a game. Only 10 teams scored fewer as the Celtics improved to 43-12 with six straight wins.

Sam Hauser started in place of Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, who took the night off after last night’s close finish in Brooklyn. The opening minutes, with Ben Simmons out and Cam Johnson available on the other side, hardly resembled the flow of that game. The Celtics scorched to a 69.2% start at their hottest while the Nets started 25% from the field and 12.5% from three midway through the first half. Boston hit 11-of-22 from three into the locker room and kept pouring it on into the third, leading by as many as 56 points as Neemias Queta and Jordan Walsh checked in.

Walsh appeared late in the first quarter with Boston already ahead 26-10 riding an inside-out game with layers of passing that flowed into Porzingis handoffs in the high post. Officials called Walsh for a foul trying to navigate a screen on the first second he played, then hit him with a second moments later as he tried to guard tight to the baseline. He fumbled a breakaway opportunity trying to euro-step and missed again in transition on his next attempt, but teammates picked him up and Mazzulla kept playing him as he made a pair of strong contests on Cam Thomas and Mikal Bridges during his stints.

Luke Kornet extended the Celtics’ advantage to 19 with a pair of finishes to begin the second while his offensive rebound plays later set Jrue Holiday, a regular headband wearer, up for three. Hauser hit another, then found Payton Pritchard from deep to secure a 47-17 advantage only 18 minutes into the game. Pritchard also streaked back line for a reverse finish and hit a three, while White hit a pair to enter halftime with the game basically in hand.

White reached 27 points in less than three quarters through his 10-for-15 start while Tatum took a seat with 20 points and nine assists through 28 minutes. He’ll start in Sunday’s All Star Game, while Porzingis will recover from a back contusion and a sore right ankle that knocked him out of Wednesday’s win early.

Adam Himmelsbach reported he would’ve been able to return if necessary, but with Tatum, Hauser and Pritchard raining down shots to begin the third, that hardly proved necessary. Boston finished the frame 12-for-25, hitting six threes and leading 101-55. Midway through the fourth, Svi Mykhailiuk and Oshae Brissett joined the bench on the floor and the wave began in the stands.

Gino Time played during the following timeout, but the Celtics kept playing. Brissett threw down a windmill dunk on the run. Pritchard drove full force to the rim, his face red from 31 minutes, to drop off a pass to Queta for a two-handed slam with 1:00 on the clock — his break beginning late.


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