Caris LeVert lights up Celtics for 51 points
The career-best performance helped the Nets end a four-game slide
Sometimes the best coaching is no coaching at all — especially when a player is as hot as Caris LeVert was in Boston Tuesday night.
At least that’s what Kenny Atkinson intimated after watching LeVert score 37 of his career-high 51 points in the fourth quarter and overtime of the Brooklyn Nets’ improbable, slump-busting 129-120 victory over the host Celtics Tuesday night in front of 19,156 fans at TD Garden.
“It was all him,” the Nets’ head coach said of LeVert, who scored 18 points over the final 4:05 of regulation to force overtime and poured in all 11 of Brooklyn’s points in the extra session to end a four-game losing streak.
“We didn’t run anything. He just kind of took over,” Atkinson added. “I mean, he called what’s in our playbook, but I was definitely not calling any plays. That’s where, as a coach, you better get back, get out of his way.”
Seemingly everyone did clear the path for LeVert, who went 17-of-26 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range.
The 25-year-old shooting guard also knocked down 12 of 18 free throws, including three from the line with 0.2 seconds remaining to forge a 118-118 deadlock.
“The basket was so big at that point,” said LeVert, who fell three points shy of matching Kyrie Irving’s season-best 54-point effort against Chicago on Jan. 31.
“I had hit a couple, got some easy layups going to the rim,” he added. “Like I said, the basket was huge at that point, so you’re just trying to get a good look.”
The basket must have appeared even bigger to LeVert in overtime as he scored the first eight points of the extra session to put Brooklyn in front to stay, 126-118.
“I just tried to stay positive, tried to keep my head in it even when I was on the bench in the third quarter,” LeVert said after helping the Nets overcome a 21-point, third-quarter deficit by sparking them to a 51-point fourth quarter.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 16 points off the bench and Spencer Dinwiddie added 14 points for Brooklyn, which climbed back over Orlando by a half-game for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After salvaging the finale of an otherwise dismal four-game road trip, the Nets will return to Downtown’s Barclays Center Wednesday night to host the Memphis Grizzlies.
Nothing But Net: Irving’s season officially came to an end Tuesday as he underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on the right shoulder impingement that limited him to only 20 games this year after he left Boston for Brooklyn as a free agent last summer. … LeVert’s herculean effort was the Nets’ third 50-plus point game of the campaign as Irving also put up 50 in his Brooklyn debut on Oct. 23 vs. Minnesota. … The Nets’ 51 points in the fourth quarter was a season high for any period by Brooklyn this year. “I’m trying to process it all; 51 points in the fourth quarter against a team like that,” Atkinson noted. “Listen, it’s obvious we got a boost from our bench, those guys that don’t play. It’s like one of those Hollywood movies.”
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