NEWARK - Traffic held up the Boston Celtics on their way to the Prudential Center on Saturday night, and in their haste to get to the arena, they forgot to unload their offense for much of the first half. Fortunately, it arrived in the third quarter.
Boston outscored the New Jersey Nets, 26-13, in the period while holding the Nets to 24 percent from the field to take control of the contest, ultimately capturing a 94-82 win over their division rivals in the middle game of a back-to-back-to-back.
Kevin Garnett powered the team, totaling a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. Brandon Bass scored 18 and had 10 boards, Paul Pierce netted 17 points and Avery Bradley chipped in with 18 points. Rajon Rondo scored four but had 15 assists, extending his streak of game with double-digit assists to 21. Greg Stiemsma had six points and nine boards off the bench.
Gerald Green, the former Celtics first-round draft pick, had 15 points to lead New Jersey. MarShon Brooks finished with 13 points and both Deron Williams and Jordan Williams scored 12.
While they weren't held in the teens, the Celtics scored 22 in the opening frame and trailed by six heading into the second quarter. The game was tied at 12 at the 6:50 mark of the first, but the Nets closed out the period with a 16-10 run. New Jersey led 36-31 midway through the second, but three straight assists from Rondo put Boston in the drivers seat, 39-36, with 3:50 to go before the break. A quick 12-9 run from New Jersey -- capped off by a Green three at the buzzer -- made it at 48-48 game at halftime.
The decisive third quarter started with a 9-0 run from the Celts, with five different players scoring. New Jersey would pull within four (59-55 at 6:02), but a balanced scoring attack from Boston swelled the lead up to 15 with 31.2 ticks left in the quarter, and the Celtics would not look back.
Boston wraps up its back-to-back-to-back against the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday.