Paul Pierce had 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists as the Boston Celtics fell to the Brooklyn Nets, 102-97, in their first meeting at the Barclays Center on Thursday night in Brooklyn, NY.
Brooklyn opened up the half scoring at will and moving the ball effectively, while taking a 13-point lead. With the game slipping away, Boston used a 16-2 run to get back into the game led by their captain, Pierce. The veteran forward had 11 in the the third as the Celtics took their first lead of the night, 73-71, with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter.
Despite their defensive anchor, Kevin Garnett, resting throughout the end of the third, Boston finished off a 20-2 run to close the quarter, leading 79-74.
Brooklyn would use a 9-2 run in the fourth quarter to take a two-point lead with just over three minutes to go in the game thanks to a Joe Johnson bucket. Jeff Green made a huge play on the defensive end, forcing a travel with Boston down four, only to come back and hit a monster trey with under a minute remaining to cut the lead to one. The Nets would hit free throws at the other end, taking a three-point lead with 43 seconds remaining.
Pierce had a shot to cut the deficit to one, but missed both attempts at the charity stripe, allowing the Nets to notch free throws at the other end and close out the night.
Without Rajon Rondo out due to a sprained right ankle, the Celtics used a combination of Leandro Barbosa, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Green to replace the ball-handler. Barbosa got a majority of the minutes for Boston as a starting point guard, while Lee had a breakout game of sort, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine boards off the bench.
In eight games this season, Rondo is averaging a Total Point Guard Rating of 32.2. In his place, Barbosa, who saw the most minutes of any Boston player at point guard, checked in with a 17.51 rating for the night. Barbosa was solid on the offensive end, registering 17 points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals, but was mediocre on the defensive end of the floor and struggled throughout the first half against Deron Williams.
As a team, the Celtics had 17 assists on the night. By himself, Rondo has 10 or more assists consecutively over the past 32 games.
Boston hit 46 percent of their shots from the field, while Brooklyn connected on 42 percent of their attempts.
Brook Lopez and Williams led the Nets with 24 points each and Kris Humphries had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Boston will have a chance to get another win on the year when they match up with the Toronto Raptors Saturday from the TD Garden at 12:30 pm ET.
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