NEW YORK -- Consecutive home losses to inferior opponents created a significant sense of urgency for the Boston Celtics Monday.
Perhaps no Celtic was as engaged as forward Jae Crowder.
Crowder scored a career-high 25 points, coming up with two big shots down the stretch as Boston started strong and held off a late charge by the Brooklyn Nets for a 103-94 victory.
Crowder shot 8-of-13 Monday after going 9-of-27, including 4-of-15 from behind the arc, in last Wednesday's eight-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and Saturday's three-point loss to the Nets. He surpassed his career high set Dec. 18 against the Atlanta Hawks while tying a career best for made field goals.
The 25-year-old, who was acquired from Dallas in last year's Rajon Rondo trade, scored 14 points during the opening quarter when the Celtics (19-15) shot 56 percent and took a 15-point lead. He had 17 when Boston led by 14 at halftime.
"We were locked in as a unit and it showed in the first five minutes of the game," Crowder said. "We came out, really got to them and dictated how the game was going to go. We got to find out how to bring that each and every night."
After going scoreless in the third and most of the fourth as the Nets hung around and chipped away at the lead, Crowder delivered two timely plays to stem the rally.
"I was just locked in the whole game," Crowder said. "When the time presented itself to me for making a shot, I knocked it in. That's what it's all about."
With the lead sliced to 90-85, Crowder knocked down an open 3-pointer from the right side with 2:42 remaining. A little over a minute later, Crowder drove to the hoop for a layup and converted the foul shot for a 98-89 lead. He finished off the most productive game of his career by hitting two free throws in the final minute.
"He's hit big shots for us all year," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "He's not afraid of the moment and he stepped up and the biggest shot is when we were up five, Isaiah (Thomas) came off, drew the defense a little bit and threw it to Crowder."
Crowder led five Celtics in double figures.
Point guard Thomas also helped in the fourth quarter, scoring seven of his 19 points. Forwards Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger and guard Evan Turner added 12 points apiece for Boston, which led by as many as 19 and held a 54-40 margin in the paint.
"It was good," Turner said. "We obviously needed a win. I feel we came out great, started the game off great and took care of business."
Brooklyn forward Thaddeus Young posted his 18th double-double with 23 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. Forward Joe Johnson added 21 points and center Brook Lopez finished with 19 although he was 1-for-5 in the final quarter.
"We were battling back all night," Lopez said. "I was disappointed in myself down the stretch. I felt like I didn't make all of the correct decisions and when I had the opportunity I didn't finish as well as I could of."
The Nets (10-24) played their first game since losing point guard Jarrett Jack to a season-ending knee injury. Point guard Shane Larkin started but scored four points, while shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic missed all seven of his 3-point attempts as the Nets made six of 28 from behind the arc and missed 15 straight at one point.
Brooklyn never led for the final 43-plus minutes as it gave up runs of 8-0 and 7-0 run while committing eight turnovers in the first quarter.
The Nets cut it to 10 a few times in the third and trailed 79-68 entering the fourth and made it close when Boston missed 11 of its first 13 shots in the fourth.
"It was the first quarter that killed us," Johnson said.
NOTES: Brooklyn GM Billy King said during the morning shootaround he plans on applying for the disabled player exception following G Jarrett Jack's season-ending knee injury. The exception is worth $3.15 million and expires March 10. The Nets have until Jan. 15 to apply. .... Not only did G Avery Bradley (hip pointer) not travel with the team, but Boston coach Brad Stevens is unsure when Bradley will return. ... Stevens gave G Evan Turner the start for Bradley over G Marcus Smart for two reasons. One was Turner's recent play and the other is Stevens didn't think Smart was ready to play more than 30 minutes since he only returned from a left leg injury last week. ... Nets C Brook Lopez was selected the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the third time in his career.
for more features.