The Surge Nets crushed the Celtics for the fourth consecutive victory

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BOSTON – The Nets arguably played their best game of the season.

And Boston was on the wrong end of it.

The Nets crushed the Celtics, 123-104, before 19,156 at TD Garden, which tested the selling crowd in the third quarter but streamed in the middle of the fourth.

“I think our boys welcome it [atmosphere]Coach Steve Nash said: “It’s fun to go out on the road in a good atmosphere. It makes you excited and it’s nice to be able to play in such an environment. [Wednesday] Nights in Boston are the best NBA atmosphere.

East-leading Brooklyn (14-5) won its fourth straight and 12 of its last 14.

For the first time since last season’s playoffs – when they beat the same Celtics in the first round, before they saw injuries and the eventual champion Bucks stopped them in the second – Brooklyn actually looked like the title team.

Kevin Durant, who scored 21 points, goes to Dunk during the Nets’ 123-104 win over the Celtics.
Getty Images

Patty Mills had a team-high 23 points, while Kevin Durant added 21 and James Harden 20 with 11 assists and seven boards.

The Nets have scored more this season and shot better; But it was against Orlando and Detroit. To do this for Boston – in Boston – is a different color blowout, which is still their best show.

And who should argue? Certainly not the Celtics.

James Harden, who scored 20 points, shot a 3-pointer during the Nets ’win.
James Harden, who scored 20 points, shot a 3-pointer during the Nets ’win.
NBAE by Getty Images

Not after the Nets caught him shooting 36.7 percent, and 11 of 48 from deep.

Not after Brooklyn suppressed both Jason Tatum (4 of 16) and Jaylen Brown (5 of 15). Not after the Nets actually looked like a competitor on both ends of the court.

Up to this point, the Nets have compensated for the absence of All-Star Kyrie Irving by grinding defensive victories. Joe Harris and Blake Griffin’s offense suffered an ankle injury in their shooting fight that made them more muscular.

Doesn’t matter. Nash pushed the right buttons, gave rookie Cam Thomas more minutes and benched Griffin for LaMarcus Aldridge. The moves came on gold.

Aldridge had 17 points and nine rebounds. But more importantly, his midrange game unlocked the offense, giving the Nets a gap and helping shred the normally hardened Celtics defense for 51.2 percent shooting.

“That’s definitely part of it. Our gap has struggled at times and our pace has hurt a little bit. So we try to find different combinations that work,” Nash said.

“We’re going to play against Load Defense. It doesn’t matter if your name is Kevin Durant or James Harden. It’s hard to go from one to the other, on the third. We need to play snap, move defense, move help and attack. That’s why we’re still working and trying to get there.

They got there one night.

After taking a 29-22 lead through the first period, Brooklyn went 11-3 to start the second period. Harden’s 3-pointer closed it out and gave the Nets a 40-25 edge.

Brooklyn charged another charge to start the third, this time extending an 18-3 run. This time Harden found a sixth-man Mills – instead of Harris – for a 3-pointer and an 80-52 lead.

The cushion was paddled for 29, with Harden’s step-back 3 at 90-60 and then Aldridge’s free throw at 91-62 with 3:50 remaining.

That proved to be more than enough. The Nets finally took their foot off the gas, and Boston made the inevitable run, cutting the lead to a dozen.

The Celtics went 97-85 with 9:23 left in Tatum’s running dunk, but weren’t close.

“[Aldridge] That’s fine, ”said Celtic coach Ime Udoka, a Nets assistant last season. “He brings a different dynamic to his team. He’s a veteran he trusts. I know Kevin and James, they’re hiring him to get him out there and bring him back; and he’s doing great. When he scores well and plays, the impact is night and day … Next I see his character increase.

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