BOSTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points and Al Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut on Wednesday night as the Celtics survived a late scare to beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 in their season opener.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 for Brooklyn, including a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 47 seconds left after the Nets erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston bench. But he missed one with a chance to tie it after Joe Harris intercepted Thomas’ cross-court pass, and the Celtics were able to hold on.
Justin Hamilton came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds for the Nets in coach Kenny Atkinson’s debut.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens sat his starters for much of the fourth quarter after opening a 23-point lead. But after Brooklyn cut it to 118-108 with about 2 ½ minutes left, he motioned for them to get off the bench.
Thomas, Crowder, Horford, Avery Bradley and Amir Johnson re-entered the game with an eight-point lead and 2:07 left and did just enough to protect it.
Horford added five rebounds and six assists for the Celtics, who signed him during the NBA’s offseason spending spree to a four-year, $113 million deal. Bradley had nine rebounds, one after Hamilton’s missed 3-point shot with 15 seconds left on another attempt to tie it.
The Celtics are hoping Horford will help lead them to an Atlantic Division title this season, one year after they finished eight games behind Toronto with the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But he was relegated to a supporting role in the opener.
Boston took a two-point lead after one quarter and then scored 13 of the first 16 points of the second to make it 46-34.
It was 73-65 when the Celtics scored seven straight points, including a 3-pointer by Thomas that gave them a 78-65 lead. Thomas scored the last seven Boston points during a 7-3 run to end the third and then the Celtics opened the fourth with an 8-2 run to open a 105-83 lead.
Nets: Earlier in the day, Lin donated $1 million to Harvard, where he graduated in 2010. The money will be used for undergraduate financial aid and to help renovate the school’s basketball arena.
Celtics: New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount and actor Donnie Wahlberg were in the crowd. … Injured guard Marcus Smart gave the traditional season-opening thanks to the crowd for the Celtics.
Nets: Thursday host Indiana. The Nets open their fifth season in Brooklyn.
Celtics: Thursday visit Chicago. The Bulls will try to hold onto the city’s attention on an off-night for the World Series, where the Cubs are trying to win their first championship since 1908.