Bradley, Thomas Lead Celtics To 120-95 Win Over Nets
Avery Bradley has taken over Isaiah Thomas' role as instant offense off the bench for the Boston Celtics.
Bradley scored 21 points Friday night in a 120-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. He has reached double figures in all four games since coming back from a calf injury, and it was the second time during that stretch that he scored 21.
"I have a chip on my shoulder and I'm going out there and playing as hard as I can," said Bradley, who has shot 55 percent over the last four games.
The Celtics helped themselves in more ways than one by beating Brooklyn.
Boston owns the Nets' first-round draft choice next year as a result of the blockbuster trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in 2013. So every time the Nets lose, it increases Boston's chances of getting a high pick after this season.
Bradley had eight points in the second quarter, when the Celtics went 18 for 21 from the field (86 percent) and closed with a 26-7 run.
"I said before the game I like those guys coming off the bench because of the scoring pop they give us, and sometimes you really need that," coach Brad Stevens said. "And he's given it to us now four straight games."
Thomas, who moved into the starting lineup when Bradley returned to health, added 18 points and nine assists. Thomas scored all 14 of his first-half points - including four 3-pointers - during the second-quarter spurt.
"He's doing a good job of getting other guys involved," Stevens said. "Then they found him — that's when he made his 3s."
Jae Crowder had 19 points, Evan Turner scored 12 and David Lee 11 for the Celtics, who took the opener of a home-and-home set between the Atlantic Division rivals. Boston won for the fourth time in five games and pulled to 3-3 at home.
The 25-point margin of victory was the largest of the season for the Celtics.
"That was a disappointing performance," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "I'm surprised that we put up a performance like that, but they had a lot to do with it on the other side."
The Nets (2-11) shot 42 percent in the first half and turned the ball over 11 times, including four times during Boston's second-quarter surge. It was the ninth time this season they were held under 100 points.
Thaddeus Young had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, his fifth double-double after posting three last season.
"We played terrible. That's the only thing you can say right now," Young said.
Brook Lopez also scored 14 points, and rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added a career-high 13.
Nets: Lopez and Shane Larkin were the only two Nets to shoot better than 50 percent. ... Lopez has led the team in scoring eight times this season. ... It was the Nets' worst shooting performance and defensive effort of the season. They shot 39 percent to Boston's 59 percent.
Celtics: All seven of Boston's wins have been by at least 13 points. ... The Celtics scored 66 points in the first half, their second-most this season. They had 72 in a Nov. 6 win over Washington. ... G Marcus Smart left in the fourth quarter with a bruised right knee. He was scheduled for an MRI on Saturday.
Nets: Host Boston on Sunday.
Celtics: At Brooklyn on Sunday.