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Celtics blow 28-point lead and lose Robert Williams in 115-105 loss to Nets

The Celtics allowed 38 points to Mikal Bridges, turned the ball over 19 times and Jayson Tatum missed all eight three-point attempts while Boston suffered its biggest collapse all year.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON — Jayson Tatum missed all eight three-pointers he took. Jaylen Brown botched five shots around the rim and watched seven jump shots bounce away. Seth Curry bothered Tatum on the ball. Four offensive rebounds bounced around the rim as the crowd clamored for someone to grab the ball. Mike Muscala finally did, but the Celtics trailed by seven points and missed their chance to stop their worst collapse of the season.

Nobody stopped Mikal Bridges as he shot 13-for-22 and 19 Celtics turnovers powered a 28 43-point Brooklyn swing, coming back down by 28 early in the second quarter to score a 115-105 win in Boston. The Celtics, who earlier in the day scratched Malcolm Brogdon with ankle pain, lost Robert Williams III to a hamstring injury right as the Nets claimed a lead.

Offense came easily to the Celtics as the Nets struggled, and occasionally refused to guard dribble penetration. Smart and Brown scored on transition breaks, Cam Johnson fouled three times in less than three minutes and a 2-for-14 Nets start aided Boston’s pace. Looseness showed early through the up-and-down play, Tatum turning the ball over and Brown tossing an alley-oop to Robert Williams III off glass and getting bailed out by a foul.

The Celtics took a double-digit lead early followed an Al Horford’s three, following the team’s acknowledgement of his 1,000th career game. Brown threw down a breakout dunk and hit a spot-up three to take a 21-5 lead, then Derrick White closed out the quarter with eight points in six minutes to go ahead 37-15.

The collapse started with pull-up threes, aided by turnovers. Tatum missed a pair of jumpers, Brown hit a three and kept driving, hitting a layup past Johnson to increase Boston’s advantage to 51-23 at its height. Joe Mazzulla tried to stop the slippage, another Tatum miss, a Smart jump shot didn’t fall and Grant Williams turned the ball over into the back court appearing after his DNP-CD on Wednesday. A flood of Celtics timeouts did little to stop the bleeding, or Mikal Bridges, who hit a pair of shots inside to spark the comeback.

Dorian Finney-Smith started with a pair of threes and the lead dipped to 19 just over four minutes. Smart tried to pace the lead with a layup and alley-oop to Williams III, but Royce O’Neale and Seth Curry checked in to pour in three consecutive shots following a Bridges three. The Nets’ deficit fell to 11. Then, Brooklyn stole six straight points in the final minute.

Boston led by nine entering the second half and shot 8-for-20 in the third quarter. The Nets’ run reached 47-19 after Bridges and Finney-Smith added additional threes. Brooklyn outscore the Celtics by 32 points over 14 minutes around halftime, and after missing a pair of free throws and fouling Johnson inside, Williams III darted to the locker room with left hamstring tightness and did not return. Plays later, Luke Kornet tossed a pass out-of-bounds with a point blank look and didn’t pick up Bridges crashing the offense glass. Boos ensued.

Johnson’s free throws secured the lead, Bridges pushed it to eight points and Patty Mills danced along the opposing sideline after Finney-Smith capped a 9-for-18 start to the third. A barrage of Brooklyn offensive rebounds ended the frame, Mazzulla replacing Tatum with Payton Pritchard and a Brown-led bench unit looking for a spark, but the star’s aggressive drives got swallowed up in the paint again and again.

Bridges reached 38 points in the fourth quarter on a trio of jump shots that expanded Brooklyn’s lead to double-digits. White tried to toss a one-handed pass to his left and a Smart-led rally within single digits, briefly, only intrigued the crowd momentarily. Horford missed a layup at the rim, Dinwiddie scored in the other direction and the Nets sent an upset Friday crowd to exits — as angered as they’ve been since this scene played out regularly last winter.

The Celtics close the home stand against the Knicks at 7:30 EST on Sunday.

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