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Shorthanded Celtics stumble in Brooklyn 110-96

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D’Angelo Russell dominated for Brooklyn with 20 of his 29 points in the third quarter

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Shorthanded and on the second night of a back-to-back against a team desperate for a win, the Boston Celtics fell at the Brooklyn Nets 110-96. The loss dropped Boston a half game behind the Indiana Pacers in the race for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston played without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, and couldn’t find the touch offensively, nor could they string together stops on the defensive end. The lack of either allowed Brooklyn to pull away in the second half for the decisive victory.

After a low-scoring, back-and-forth first half, D’Angelo Russell exploded in the third quarter to push the Nets to a lead they would never relinquish. Russell scored 20 of his 29 points in the third, as Brooklyn opened up a 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, Boston made a concerted effort to get the ball out of Russell’s hands, so he transitioned to being a playmaker, as he tallied 10 assists for the game. Russell’s big night came at the expense of a nightmare performance for Terry Rozier. Rozier shot just 1-of-8 and had no answer for Russell on the defensive end. Russell also played a part in causing Brad Wanamaker to foul out after playing just 13 minutes.

If there was a positive for the Celtics, Gordon Hayward looked terrific on offense, as he scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists.

Daniel Theis and Marcus Morris were the only other Celtics to reach double-figures in scoring, as they both scored 16 points.

Russell was helped in the scoring column, by four other Nets in double-figures, as Caris LeVert added 15 points, Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll scored 13 apiece and Jarrett Allen put up 10 points.

The Celtics will look to get on track when they host the similarly-desperate Miami Heat on Monday night in Boston.