Pierce, Garnett get win in Boston return, 85-79

Pierce, Garnett get win in Boston return, 85-79
January 26, 2014, 9:00 pm
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BOSTON — As expected, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's return to Boston was an emotional night for all involved.

There were lots of hugs, laughs and yes, a few tears shed.

But as much as Sunday's return was about Pierce and Garnett, there was still a game to be played.

And it was one in which the Nets were able to put the emotional challenges of the night away long enough to escape with a 85-79 win.

The play of the game, not surprisingly, was made by one of the former Celtic legends.

It wasn't Pierce in an isolation play scoring the game winner.

Instead, it was Garnett doing what Garnett did so well for so many years in Boston and that's defend at a high level.

With Boston trailing by just three points (80-77) with less than a minute to play, Rajon Rondo lost control of the ball and it wound up in the hands of Garnett who drove the length of the court for what felt like a game-sealing lay-up.

That would serve as Boston's last shot at tying the game up as Brooklyn made free throws to seal the victory.

The Nets (20-22) have now won 10 of their last 11 games while the Celtics (15-31) continue to limp along with losses in 16 of their last 19 games.

Regardless of how the Celtics kept finding ways to get back into the game after falling behind, there was no mistaking that this was going to be unlike any home game for them all season.

A loud chorus of cheers greeted Garnett when he was introduced among the Brooklyn starters. An even louder ovation followed when it was Pierce's turn.

And then there were the video tributes, first Garnett and then Pierce.

Each tribute ended with a shot of the franchise's retired jerseys, with the camera locking in on a pair of open spots side-by-side.

It was a fitting image for the return of two players whose numbers are expected to be retired someday.

As for the game itself, Boston went with a different lineup to combat Brooklyn's smaller lineup that had Pierce playing power forward.

Boston kept the game relatively close in the first half, but a 10-2 run by the Nets to start the third quarter put the Celtics behind by double digits for the first time all night.

The Celtics were able to cut into the lead, but still found themselves down 59-53 going into the fourth.

Brooklyn soon pushed its lead back to double digits. Although the Celtics were able to cut the deficit to as little as four points following a jumper by Brandon Bass with just under six minutes to play, the Nets did more than enough to keep Boston at arm's length and never really much of a threat in the game's final minutes.

And for Pierce and Garnett, they returned and received what they came for: a victory.

Celtics Nation got a chance to bring a little more closure to an era that not only brought an NBA title in 2008, but also restored some of the luster to one of the most storied franchises in league history.