(December 10, 2013)
BROOKLYN—The sexy story Tuesday night in Barclays Center is that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce played against their former team, the Boston Celtics.
But the story of substance, the story that Brooklyn Nets fans can hold, is this: The Nets are getting healthy, finding an identity, and just might be a force in the Eastern Conference before it’s all said and done.
The Nets, effectively using the low post game that coach Jason Kidd was decided to go to, wore down the Celtics for what might be remembered as a watershed 104-96 win. It marked the first time this season the Nets have won back-to-back games.
The Nets got back point guard Deron Williams (left ankle sprain), who had missed the last nine games, and Paul Pierce (broken bone, right hand), who had missed the last five games.
Williams scored a season-high and a game-high 25 points to go along with seven assists. Center Brook Lopez, coming off a 32-point performance in the win at Milwaukee, scored 24.
The Nets, shot 55.7 percent from the floor and outscored the Celtics 48-30 in the paint. Kevin Garnett played a solid game with 11 points and nine rebounds.
When the Celtics erased a 56-47 halftime deficit with a 13-4 run, Brooklyn fans rightly feared another third-quarter meltdown. But Kidd called a timeout and the Nets responded by opening a 74-64 lead.
The Nets (7-14), finishing with five players in double figures, moved to within two games of the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics (10-13). The Celtics got 20 from Avery Bradley.
Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and Jason Terry (left knee) remain unavailable but for the first time in weeks the Nets are starting to spend more time on the court than in the trainer’s room.
Williams started and looked sharp, scoring six points in the first quarter on 2-of-3 shooting. After missing most of preseason recovery from a sprained right ankle suffered over the summer, Williams has twice sprained the left ankle.
Pierce came off the bench, grabbed seven rebounds, scored four points and had three assists. Kidd limited Pierce, 36, who wore a black, protective glove to protect the fractured bone in his hand suffered on Nov. 29, was expected to be out 2-4 weeks, to 22 minutes.