Marcus Smart drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the first quarter Monday to begin a game-changing run by the host Boston Celtics, who went on to beat the Brooklyn Nets 116-95.
The Celtics have won three straight and four of five. The Nets, who were trying to reach .500 beyond the midway point of the season for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign, had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the fourth time in the last 16 games.
Kylie Irving, who returned after missing two games with a left eye injury, scored 17 points to lead a balanced Celtics attack. Seven other players scored in double figures for Boston, with 16 points by Jayson Tatum and 12 apiece by Smart, Marcus Morris, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. Daniel Theis had 11 points and Terry Rozier added 10 points.
Rodions Kurucs scored 24 points and drained five 3-pointers for the Nets, one shy of the franchise’s rookie single-game record. Kenneth Faried (13 points, 12 rebounds) had a double-double before exiting in the final minutes with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Spencer Dinwiddie (15 points), Ed Davis (11 points) and Shabazz Napier (10 points) also scored in double figures for Brooklyn.
The Nets opened the game on a 12-4 run behind Kurucs, whose first two 3-pointers began and ended the run. But the Celtics quickly took control. Smart’s first 3-pointer snapped a 17-17 tie, gave Boston the lead for good and sparked a 22-5 run that spanned the first and second quarters.
The Nets, meanwhile, missed eight straight shots from the field over a 5:49 stretch in the first and second. A layup by Tatum with 7:38 left in the half gave the Celtics their first 20-point lead at 47-27.
The Nets mounted a 9-0 run early in the third to get within 59-54, but Irving scored seven points as the Celtics answered with a 17-6 run. Boston maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way and scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth to take its biggest lead at 108-84 on Horford’s jumper with 4:37 remaining.