Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Andray Blatche scored 17 points off the bench
to lead the Brooklyn Nets to an 85-79 win over the Boston Celtics in Paul
Pierce and Kevin Garnett's inaugural return to Beantown.
Pierce spent 15 seasons as a Celtic and Garnett joined him for six of those
years, as both were integral parts in helping Boston win its 17th NBA title in
2008. Both players were sent to Brooklyn as part of a draft night trade and a
new era in Boston had begun.
With Brooklyn clinging to an 80-77 lead, Garnett stole a Rajon Rondo pass as
the Boston point guard tried dropping it off to Brandon Bass with 20.9 seconds
left and the shot clock winding down. Garnett raced down the floor for an
uncontested layup that helped the Nets to their fifth straight victory and
10th win in their last 11 games.
"I knew they needed a 3-pointer at that point and I just played the passing
lane," Garnett said of stealing the Rondo pass. "It took me two days to get
the layup up I thought I was gonna get caught but I got it still, put the ball
in front of me, and I got the layup."
Pierce and Garnett finished with six points apiece as the former shot 2-for-10
and didn't register a bucket until 9:09 left in the third quarter.
"I was telling Kevin (Garnett) and everybody this was the toughest game I ever
had to play," Pierce said of returning to Boston. "Tougher than any
championship game, or any game seven. This game was just really hard to focus
and concentrate on what was at hand."
Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko each added 11 points in the win.
Bass paced Boston with 17 points, while Rondo scored 13 points with eight
rebounds and eight assists. Gerald Wallace and Chris Johnson contributed 12
points apiece in the setback.
"I think I could shoot the ball a little better, but I can always do better
and do little things to help the team," Johnson said.
The Celtics have lost two straight and are 3-17 in their last 20 games.
Boston's faithful gave the duo a standing ovation during player introductions
and the Celtics set up video montages for each player throughout timeouts
during the first quarter.
The Nets seemed to have trouble in the early going dealing with the emotions
that came with the return of two future Hall-of-Famers as the Celtics crawled
out to a 17-11 lead after 12 minutes of play.
Blatche scored seven points during a 16-2 surge that gave the Nets a 27-21
lead midway through the second stanza. Rondo hit a 3 to close the scoring in
the first half and Boston trailed 35-34 at the break.
Pierce, who was 0-for-3 from the field in the first half, got on the
scoresheet early in the third with a pair of free throws that started a 10-0
burst. He then capped the run with his first made basket after a pair of 3s
from Anderson and Brooklyn led 45-36.
The Nets stretched their lead to double digits numerous times in the third and
Kirilenko split a pair at the line early in the fourth to give the visitors
their largest lead of the game at 68-56.
Boston answered with a 14-5 run that Johnson capped with a trey to cut the
deficit to 73-70. The Nets, though, would score five straight before the
Celtics again cut into the margin and trailed by three to set up Garnett's
clutch steal in the closing seconds.
Brooklyn shot 6-for-25 (24 percent) from beyond the arc and Boston made 7-
of-26 (26.9 percent) attempts from distance ... The Nets outscored the Celtics
40-26 in the paint ...Brooklyn scored 17 points off 18 Boston turnovers.
The Sports Network