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Shorthanded Nets lose, 139-96, after Celtics got 30-point 1st quarter lead and never looked back – The Denver Post

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For the shorthanded Nets, there might be a recipe to win shorthanded against 25 of the NBA’s other 29 teams.

It’s talent, however, that gets a team over the hump against those legitimate championship contenders.

The Nets believed they found something through the 10-game stretch Kevin Durant had been sidelined with an MCL sprain — that playing with pace, jacking up threes and getting creative on defense could compensate for the superstar-power Durant brings the second he steps onto the floor.

That can work against a number of teams.

The Boston Celtics aren’t one of them.

With no Durant, no Ben Simmons (left knee soreness) and no T.J. Warren (left shin contusion), the Nets got pummeled, 139-96, by the same Celtics team that swept them out of the first round of last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs. The Nets are now 0-3 against the Celtics this season and have lost their last 10 games to Boston, including the playoff series. Their next game comes March 3 again at Boston’s TD Garden.

“We talked about making more threes and shooting more threes than them. Neither of those things happened,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said postgame. “They made some tough shots and they got going early, and that was the difference in the game.

“We’ve answered challenges down five, 15, 16, it doesn’t matters. I’ll be honest, this is part of the NBA sometimes,” he continued. “This is a night where they hit first, they hit hard, and it hurt. And we weren’t able to get off the mat like we needed to and respond like we have in the past. So you take this one on the chin and you keep moving. Learn from it.”

It was a humbling loss for a team that went 4-6 through the first 10 games without their captain, with some of those losses a possession or two away from a different result.

“I think we’ve been able to somewhat form a recipe for how we want to play. I think you see the three ball, so that’s a part of who we are,” Vaughn said after defeating a Lakers team without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. “So being able to shoot 40 threes again, that seems like a pretty good clip for us. With Kevin, our pace, we’re probably 14th in the league. Right now, we’re probably eighth or seventh without. So being able to play faster so we can get shots up earlier in the shot clock.”

The result was never in doubt on Wednesday. Celtics All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown hit seven threes apiece. The All-Star duo combined for 57 points through a barrage of treys in the opening period.

“We were down 30 at the end of the first quarter, so everything was going their way,” said sharpshooter Seth Curry. “That’s a good team and we’re obviously undermanned, so you’ve gotta play perfect basketball to get a win here.”

Kyrie Irving scored a team-high 20 points and played 31 of a possible 36 minutes through the first three quarters. Sharpshooter Joe Harris shot 4-of-7 from downtown and second-year guard Cam Thomas scored 19 points off the bench.

Royce O’Neale shot one-of-seven from downtown, Curry struggled shooting one-of-five from deep, and Irving missed six of his seven attempts from behind the arc. His trend of struggling from the field in front of the Celtics fans he used to play for continued on Wednesday.

The Nets shot just 9-of-39 from downtown and 36-of-88 from the field as a team.

They also got crushed on the glass, 57-32. Nic Claxton mustered nine points and six rebounds, and reserve center Day’Ron Sharpe tallied nine points and seven rebounds.

Vaughn emptied the bench at the bottom of the third quarter.

The Nets have a lighter challenge against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, but with the status for both Simmons and Warren unknown, the trio of Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis could be tough to handle.

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