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BOSTON -- Fresh off their wild come-from-behind victory over the Houston Rockets, the Boston Celtics close the calendar year with a New Year's Eve matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Celtics (29-10) pulled off the biggest NBA comeback of the season, rallying from 26 points down in the third quarter and leading only once - on Al Horford's basket with 3.7 seconds left in the game.
They had help in the most improbable win. First of all, the Rockets were severely shorthanded. Second, and probably more important, the NBA revealed Friday that the game's two officials - Mark Lindsay injured his back in pregame warmups -- missed a pair of traveling violations against Boston. Both noncalls led to the final two baskets of the wild night.
Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens, asked about the two traveling calls said, "Yeah, I saw one of them."
Afterward, Houston star James Harden, whose two offensive fouls in the backcourt as his team tried to inbound the ball, said the shortage of a ref had plenty to do with the Rockets' fourth straight loss.
"Well, first of all how do you have two officials in a national game? ... It's unacceptable," he said. "You can't have two officials in a professional game. It changes the dynamic. Lot of grabbing, lot of holding. How else am I supposed to get open?"
Both teams had to play the game with two officials and the Rockets were victims as the Celtics, spurred by their sellout crowd, managed to come all the way back.
"We just didn't stop believing," said Terry Rozier, who said Kyrie Irving called the players together for "a special talk" at halftime.
The win came at the perfect time for the Celtics, who had gone just 6-6 in their previous 12 games, including a win over the Hornets in Charlotte the previous night.
Jaylen Brown (Achilles) missed both games but said Saturday he expects to return, while Semi Ojeleye (back) likely will not.
Boston actually had a chance to have an actual practice Saturday and now goes for its seventh straight win over the Nets, who have a lot to do with the makeup of the current Celtics roster after that Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce deal in 2013.
If you've forgotten, here's the way it went:
Brooklyn received: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White.
Boston received: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, three first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018), plus the right to swap first-rounders in 2017.
That swap of first-rounders in 2017 gave the Celtics the top pick in the draft, they then traded down to No. 3 and picked up another first-rounder (could be at 2-through-5 if that's where the Lakers finish) -- and took Jayson Tatum at No. 3.
Coming off that incredible Thursday win, and with the Cleveland Cavaliers coming to Boston Wednesday night, there could be a bit of a letdown for Boston Sunday night.
The Nets (13-22) come in off a blowout win over the Heat in Miami.
Brooklyn fell behind 8-0 in that game but then outscored Miami 59-31 through the rest of the first half and cruised to the win.
"As upset as I was with our defensive performance against the Pelicans, we just turned the tables. It was a complete turnaround," coach Kenny Atkinson said after the Miami win. "Great job by the guys being ready. Even at halftime, you know the Heat are going to come out with a lot of energy, and we responded again."
The Nets hope to have D'Angelo Russell (knee surgery Nov. 17) and Jahlil Okafor (conditioning) back soon - and one or both could play when the Celtics come to Brooklyn next Saturday night.
Okafor played in one game after the trade from Philadelphia, with 10 points and four rebounds -- and a minus-21 -- before being shut down to get in shape after being idle with the Sixers. He has sat and watched the last seven games, three of them blowouts.
Updated December 30, 2017