EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 25 (Ticker) --
The Boston Celtics might as well have stayed home for Christmas dinner.
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The Celtics conceded scores of easy baskets and failed to hit shots as the New Jersey Nets cruised to a 117-81 rout in a
lopsided rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals.
"The Nets played well in every phase of the game," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "We took a good pounding tonight. ... We just got beat."
New Jersey led by as many as 38 points and had the game all but wrapped up early in the second quarter. The Nets hit their
first nine shots of the frame against the Celtics' defense to build a 46-22 lead.
"We just happened to hit our shots," said Nets guard Lucious Harris, who scored 17 points. "They give you the outside shot. They try not to give you the easy basket, but the shots were just falling in for us."
The Nets got more than their share of easy hoops, though, as they scored 54 points in the paint and 26 points on the fast
Richard Jefferson scored 22 points to lead the Nets, who also got 16 apiece from Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd. Jefferson, Harris and Kidd all scored in double figures in the first half as New Jersey took a 63-40 lead at intermission.
"They simply outplayed us from start to finish," said Paul Pierce, who led the Celtics with 27 points on 7-of-20 shooting. "I'm not sure why we didn't come out with more sense of urgency."
Boston put together an 11-0 run in the third quarter, but the spurt brought it within only 27 points. The Celtics closed to
95-70 at the end of the third, but got no closer and suffered their worst loss of the season.
"It's getting frustrating," Pierce said. "Over the past five or six games, we have been coming out and giving up big leads. I
know we are a good comeback team, but we can't keep letting teams get out to big leads."
The Nets shot 65 percent (28-of-43) in the first half to the Celtics' 26.5 percent (9-of-34) effort. New Jersey finished at
54 percent (45-of-83), while Boston shot 32 percent (23-of-71).
New Jersey posted its biggest win over Boston. The Nets' best previous win against the Celtics was a 111-81 triumph on March
"Our effort tonight was the best we have played this season," New Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "We really came out and
played solid defense for 48 minutes. We had maybe a two-minute span in the third quarter where the Celtics got anything they
wanted. After that period, we did a great job on the defensive end. It was a great win."
The Nets extended their home winning streak to 11 games and their league-best home record to 16-1. New Jersey has won all
nine of its games against Eastern Conference opponents at Continental Airlines Arena.
Boston had won its last four regular-season meetings with New Jersey, although the Nets defeated the Celtics in six games in
last season's Eastern Conference finals. Boston defeated New Jersey, 96-79, in their first contest this season on Nov.