Pierce, Garnett get win over Celtics, 104-96

Pierce, Garnett get win over Celtics, 104-96
December 10, 2013, 10:00 pm
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Reunion week did not get off to the best of starts for the Boston Celtics as the Brooklyn Nets - featuring former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - handed the Celtics a 104-96 loss on Tuesday.

Boston (10-13) spent most of the game trailing, but wouldn't allow the Nets to ever feel comfortable until the game was finally over.

As Brooklyn's lead teeter-tottered back and forth between high single-figures and double-digits, Boston's scrappy play and tightened defense had them within five points after Brandon Bass made a free throw with 1:53 to play.

It would seem only fitting that one of the former Celtics now with the Nets, would deliver a clutch play for the Nets in the closing minutes.

That player was Garnett who made the second of two free throws with 1:41 to play to increase Brooklyn's lead to six points.

Garnett followed that up with a tough, in-traffic rebound that sent him falling to the ground before getting a time-out to secure the Brooklyn possession with 1:25 to play.

A jumper by Joe Johnson with less than a minute to play pushed Brooklyn's lead back to double-digits (101-91), all but sealing the victory.

The loss snapped Boston's three-game winning streak, with second half of reunion week coming Wednesday night against the Doc Rivers-coached Los Angeles Clippers.

But for now, the focus was on the Nets who have struggled mightily all season in large part because of injuries.

Among them was Pierce who suffered a broken hand injury on Nov. 29. He returned to the Brooklyn lineup on Tuesday, although he came off the bench - a first for him this season.

He didn't score much, but his impact was undeniable as the Nets led by as many as 13 points in the first half. While Pierce was on the floor, Brooklyn was plus-9.

For the game, Pierce had four points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The first half was far different for his fellow former Celtic, Kevin Garnett.

Averaging a career-low six points this season, Garnett had that at the half.

The bad news?

He's also averaging a minus-5.9 while on the floor for Brooklyn this season. On Tuesday, he was minus-7 in the first half.

But he redeemed himself with strong play down the stretch, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Although much of the attention leading up to the game was on the Celtics and their former players, the guy who dominated the game was Brook Lopez.

Brooklyn's 7-foot center was too much for the Celtics, both inside the paint as well as facing up to the basket.

He finished with 24 points.

Brooklyn also got a strong game from another returner to the lineup, Deron Williams, who had 25 points in addition to seven assists.

As for the Celtics, head coach Brad Stevens cautioned those who continued to heap praise on his team that his team was only one bad quarter or one bad game away from being not all that different a team than the one that was losing games so frequently earlier this season.

And as disappointing as the loss was for Boston, finding a way to learn from it will be yet another stop along during their journey through this season that's only a quarter of the way complete.