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Pierce, Garnett return to Boston; Nets win an ugly one over the Celtics, 85-79

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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