What looked early on like a coast into the All-Star break, turned a bit trappy then became the leisurely stroll it resembled in the first quarter as the Celtics used a stellar fourth quarter to beat the Nets going away, 94-80. Paul Pierce bounced back from his lousy game against Miami on Sunday with a dominant performance, scoring 31 points on 10-of-18 from the floor to lead the C's to the win.
Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Celts while Ray Allen chipped in 12 points and Rajon Rondo put up another all-around solid performance with seven points, five rebounds, eight assists and three steals. With the win, the Celts assured themselves the best record in the Eastern Conference headed into the break.
After racing out to a 25-10, first quarter lead during which Nets coach Avery Johnson pulled his entire starting lineup, the Celts slowed down and the Nets woke up. New Jersey came back to lead by as many as nine in the third quarter before heading to the fourth tied at 70. New Jersey would again take the lead in the final frame, but the Celts exploded for a 16-0 run, seven of which came from Pierce, that allowed them to hit the break on a strong note. The Nets only two points of the final 6:17 came when rookie Derrick Favors made two free throws with just 55 seconds left.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 18 points and Devin Harris chipped in 16. The loss was New Jersey's 16th in its last 17 games against Boston. The Celts (40-14) will next take the floor Tuesday night in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, the first of a four-game, West coast road trip.