BOSTON — It wasn’t pretty, but the Celtics made sure Al Horford’s debut ended with a win Wednesday night.
The Celtics held a comfortable lead over the Brooklyn Nets for much of their season opener at TD Garden but saw that advantage evaporate down the stretch as the Nets surged back. Boston held on by a hair, though, escaping with a 122-117 win to start its 2016-17 campaign.
Horford had a solid Celtics debut with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, but Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder did the heavy lifting, racking up 25 and 21 points, respectively.
Avery Bradley chipped in 17 points while Tyler Zeller added 13, as the C’s shot an impressive 54 percent from the floor.
Here’s how this one went down:
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford, Amir Johnson
Boston’s first regular-season quarter of basketball featured plenty of scoring all around, as the Celtics and Nets both shot over 50 percent in an offense-heavy first 12 minutes.
The Celtics’ new guys got involved right away, with Horford drilling an early 3-pointer and rookie Jaylen Brown muscling up a layup for his first two NBA points.
Crowder paced Boston early with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, but Brooklyn relied on a barrage of 3-pointers to keep things close early and trailed 32-31 at the first break.
SHARING IS CARING
The C’s spread the wealth in the second quarter to gain some breathing room, beginning the frame on a 13-3 run to take a double-digit lead.
Thomas led the way in the helping department with seven assists to six different teammates. Boston tallied 19 assists on 23 made field goals in the first half, as all 10 Celtics who saw the floor scored at least two points.
The Nets cooled off behind the arc, going just 3-of-12 in the second quarter, but still trailed by just six points at the half.
Thomas and Crowder took matters into their own hands in the third quarter to help the C’s pull away.
The potent duo combined for 23 of Boston’s 33 points in the frame (12 for Thomas; 11 for Crowder). Crowder got things going on a pair of jumpers, while Thomas followed up with seven consecutive points late in the quarter.
Boston outscored Brooklyn by 10 points in the quarter, taking a comfortable 16-point lead into the fourth.
NOT SO FAST
The Nets refused to go away, capitalizing on some sloppy Celtics play amid a furious 20-4 run that cut Boston’s lead to just three with 30 seconds to play.
Bojan Bogdanovic missed a 3-point attempt to tie the score, however, and Thomas hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to help the C’s skirt disaster.
DOING IT AL(L)
Horford didn’t light up the scoreboard, but he certainly filled the box score, racking up 11 points, five rebounds, six assists and a game-high four blocks.
The All-Star forward’s contributions went beyond the stat sheet, too, as he set several screens in pick-and-roll sets that freed teammates up for open jumpers. In all, it was a pretty solid Boston debut for Horford.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
The first of many “How did he make that?” shots from Thomas this season:
The Celtics hit the road right away, traveling to Chicago on Thursday to take on Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, R.J. Hunter and the new-look Bulls. Tip-off at United Center is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images