From an emotional standpoint, there's no bigger game on the Nets' schedule than Sunday's game, where Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returned to Boston to take on the Celtics as members of the Brooklyn Nets. For Pierce, who spent 15 seasons in Boston, it was the first time he had played in Boston as a member of the opposing team.
Still, while both players knew it would be a highly anticipated and overly emotional return, both acknowledged that what really mattered, ultimately, was coming out of Boston with a victory. And, while it wasn't pretty, that's exactly what the Nets did, beating the Celtics in Boston, 85-79.
"This was the toughest game I ever had to play -- tougher than any championship game, any Game 7," said Pierce.
You could see the nerves getting the best of the Nets early, with the offense struggling to find a rhythm. It appeared as if they were trying to get Paul Pierce going early, to shake and jitters, but it wasn't working. Four minutes into the game, the Nets found themselves down 8-0.
Brooklyn never settled down in the first. They scored just 11 points, shooting 4-of-18 from the floor and being out-rebounded by the Celtics, 16-9. Just an awful quarter of basketball. One in which they found themselves down 17-11. The only good news was that the Celtics weren't playing much better.
In the second, neither team could really find the bottom of the basket. At the 7:30-mark, both teams were shooting under 30 percent for the game. The Nets' second unit, led by Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic, was able to grab the lead midway through the second, though, 23-21. It didn't mean they were playing well, just that they were playing slightly better than the Celtics.
The Nets shot 32.6 percent form the floor in the first half, but still somehow managed to carry a 35-34 lead into the half. Mostly because, well, the Celtics were terrible, shooting 32.4 percent from the floor and turning the ball over 11 times. Pierce went scoreless in the first half, while Garnett had just four points.
At around the 11-minute mark in the third, Pierce finally scored, hitting two free throws. He then hit his first field goal at around the 9-minute mark in the third.
Alan Anderson hit back-to-back threes early on in the third, as the Celtics continued to miss easy shots. The Nets were able to build a little distance, going up nine, 45-36.
The Celtics fought back, for a lack of a better term, while the Nets continued to struggle to make more than one out of every three field goal attempts. Boston's many turnovers also helped the Nets maintain their lead. The Celtics had 13 turnovers through three quarters.
Nets led 59-53 after three. The 53 points for the Celtics is a season-low for a Nets opponent through three quarters this season.
You almost waited for the Celtics to find their rhythm and really make a game of this. And, it did, slightly. They pulled to within four points midway through the fourth quarter. The Celtics finally found their way, and it required some work from the Nets who seemed to have been coasting to a victory. Brooklyn had to put a little work in to finish this one off, and they did.
Pierce and Garnett helped finish off the Celtics down the stretch -- Garnett had a key steal and hoop in the final seconds -- winning 85-79. That's now 10 wins in the last 11 games for the Nets.
The Celtics finished shooting 38 percent from the floor, with 16 turnovers. Much of the credit goes to the Nets' defense, which was active and forceful. But, again, the Celtics were, for the most part, awful.
Pierce finished with six points, while Garnett went for six points and three rebounds. Blatche led the way with 17 points, with Deron Williams finishing with seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Anderson finished with 11 points.
Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics, along with six turnovers.
Next up, the Nets take on the first place Toronto Raptors in Brooklyn on Monday.
For more on the Celtics, see: CelticsBlog
- Nets at Celtics - January 26, 2014 - Box score - NBA.com
- Celtics fall to Pierce and KG's Nets 79 - 85 - Jeff Clark - CelticsBlog
- Game Thread: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics, 6:30 PM - NetsDaily
- 2nd Half Game Thread: Nets at Celtics - NetsDaily
- Video: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett receive standing ovation from Boston fans - NetsDaily
- Video: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett tribute videos - NetsDaily
- Nets vs. Celtics: First Half (Video) - NBA.com
- Garnett, Pierce Introduced (Video) - NBA.com
- Pierce's First Basket (Video) - NBA.com
- Slammin' It Home (Video) - NBA.com
- Post Game Plus: Nets beat Celtics, 85-79 (Video) - Bob Lorenz - YES Network
- Pierce on being back in Boston (Video) - Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Kidd on beating Celtics (Video) - YES Network
- Garnett, Pierce talk about Boston (Video) YES Network
- Celtics honor Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett (Video) - Boston Globe
- For Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, a Boston goodbye comes with cheers, tears and a forever bond - Adrian Wojnarowski - Yahoo! Sports
- Tributes for Pierce and Garnett, and Another Victory for the Nets - Peter May - New York Times
- Having the Right Size, Not the Most Size, Fuels the Nets - Beckley Mason - New York Times
- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce return to Boston as Nets top Celtics, 85-79 - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett get moving tribute, then Nets hold off Celtics - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Andray Blatche enjoys Boston welcome for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Nets win in emotional return to Boston for Garnett, Pierce - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets notes: The big turnaround - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Pierce and Garnett Make a Friendly Return to Boston - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett return to Boston and Nets beat Celtics, 85-79 - AP
- Nets down Celtics as KG, Pierce return to Boston - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Pierce, Garnett feel Boston’s love - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Rebuilding Celtics honor Garnett, Pierce - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Rapid Reaction: Nets 85, Celtics 79 - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett call return to Boston their 'toughest game' - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- KG channels his inner MJ in Boston - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Brooklyn Celtics: Nets 85, Celtics 79 (GAME GRADES) - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- The Morning After: There Was A Game Between Those Tributes, I Think - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Garnett Proves Net Gains In Return To Boston - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- Final Score: Nets 85, Celtics 79 - Jim Mancari - SNY Nets
- On an emotional night in Boston, the Nets dug deep and got a hard-earned victory - Jon Presser - SNY Nets
- Former Nets face a harsh reality - Gregory Hrinya - Examiner
- Nets beat Celtics, 85-79, in Paul Pierce’s and Kevin Garnett’s return to TD Garden - Baxter Holmes - Boston Globe
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett return for first time as ex-Celtics - Baxter Holmes - Boston Globe
- Return to Boston ‘bigger than Minnesota’ for Kevin Garnett - Gary Washburn - Boston Globe
- Celtics’ video tributes a true show of respect - Baxter Holmes - Boston Globe
- Truth is, Celtics were lucky to have Paul Pierce - Christopher Gasper - Boston Globe
- Emotional tribute rekindles Kevin Garnett’s love for Green - Mark Murphy - Boston Herald
- Emotional homecoming for former Celtics - Steve Bulpett - Boston Herald
- Pierce, Garnett get their Garden tributes - Steve Bulpett - Boston Herald
- Notebook: Despite late surge, losing tide keeps rolling - Mark Murphy - Boston Herald
- Rapid Reaction: Nets 85, Celtics 79 - Chris Forsberg - ESPN Boston
- Video: KG, Pierce tributes - Chris Forsberg - ESPN Boston
- Pierce goes home again - Jackie MacMullan - ESPN Boston
- KG holds it together - Chris Forsberg - ESPN Boston
- Pierce, Garnett get win in Boston return, 85-79 - A. Sherrod Blakely - Comcast Sports Net
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett Greeted With Booming Cheers At TD Garden - Ben Watanabe - NESN
- Kevin Garnett: Rajon Rondo ‘Took Notes’ On How To Be Leader For Celtics - Ben Watanabe - NESN
- Ford Keys to the Game: Nets 85, Celtics 79 - Boston Celtics