NEW YORK — Jae Crowder collected a season-high 24 points and 12 rebounds and the Boston Celtics overcame the absence of star point guard Isaiah Thomas and held on for a 98-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Friday night.
The Celtics played without Thomas, who sat out due to a bone bruise in his right knee. With Thomas missing his fifth game of the season, it was a struggle at times for the Celtics.
Avery Bradley added 16 for the Celtics, who shot 40 percent from the field. Al Horford contributed 14 despite shooting 6 of 16 while Marcus Smart added 12 in place of Thomas.
Brook Lopez scored 23 for the Nets, who were seeking their first winning streak of the season.
Crowder hardly struggled during his 35-minute stint and highlighted his seventh double-double of the season with two key plays in crunch time. With the game in an 85-85 deadlock, Crowder took a pass from Horford, spotted up from the left side for a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 remaining.
With 2:59 remaining, Crowder drove by Quincy Acy and threw down a one-handed baseline dunk much to the delight of the Celtics’ fans sitting behind the basket and throughout Barclays Center. Crowder then ran behind the net to flex his muscles in celebration and completed the three-point play for a 91-85 lead.
Despite Crowder’s two clutch plays, the Nets still had a chance in the final minute. The Nets were within 93-91 when Spencer Dinwiddie hit two free throws with 44.7 seconds remaining.
Horford missed an open 3-pointer but Jeremy Lin was called for a foul jostling for position under the rim with 26.4. The Nets then fouled Smart, who made two free throws for a 95-91 lead.
Following a timeout, Lin made a step-back 12-footer in the lane to make it a two-point game. After the Celtics used a timeout, Smart sank two more free throws with 15.1 seconds left.
The Nets used a 20-second timeout and Foye converted a layup with 10.4 seconds remaining. Bradley then split a pair at the line with 9.1 seconds remaining and Brooklyn called its final timeout.
The game ended when Lopez and Acy missed long 3-pointers in the final nine seconds.
NOTES: Boston coach Brad Stevens said at the morning shootaround G Isaiah Thomas’ right knee swelled up in the last game. Stevens said he hopes Thomas can play Monday against the Washington Wizards. … Brooklyn F Trevor Booker (left leg soreness) missed the game. Coach Kenny Atkinson said the injury is “not a big deal” and expects Booker to play Sunday against Dallas. … Nets G Joe Harris (sprained left shoulder) missed his eighth straight game while G Sean Kilpatrick (strained left hamstring) missed his second consecutive contest. Stevens is an Indiana native and his name inevitably came up in rumors about the Indiana job after Tom Crean was fired Thursday “So I’ve been asked about that quite a bit,” Stevens said. “I’ll just keep saying the same thing to keep saying the same thing, I’m going to be here until the Celtics decide they want to move in another direction.”