Rapid Reaction: Nets 104, Celtics 96

NEW YORK -- Rapid reaction after the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 104-96 on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center:


At Tuesday morning's shootaround, first-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted, "We’re not playing the Nets that have played the first [20] games. We’re playing the Nets that everybody thought were going to be the Nets." The return of Deron Williams (25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, seven assists, three rebounds) and old friend Paul Pierce, along with a dominant effort by center Brook Lopez were enough for Brooklyn to snap Boston's three-game winning streak. Lopez got whatever he wanted against the size-deprived Celtics, registering 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting over 38 minutes. Brooklyn outscored Boston 48-30 in the paint. Even old friend Kevin Garnett (11 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 9 rebounds) found his missing touch against his former team.


Down nine coming out of halftime, it took the Celtics only 2:21 to tie the game, a couple of Jared Sullinger 3-pointers bookending the offensive spurt. But Brooklyn regained control even quicker. The Nets embarked on a 10-0 burst over a two-minute span, culminating with a 21-foot jumper by Williams for a 70-60 lead with 6:48 to play in the third quarter. Any time Boston showed signs of another spurt, it was smothered in the form of easy Lopez buckets as he bulled his way to the hoop.


The Nets had Boston at arm's length for much of the second half after taking control midway through the third quarter. But the Celtics wouldn't go quietly and, despite trailing by 13 with 4:47 to go, surged within five with less than two minutes to go. They would get no closer and a little 5-0 burst was enough to ice the game for the Nets.


Garnett, famous for his icy greeting of former teammate Ray Allen after he defected to the rival Heat last season, greeted each of Boston's five starters -- all returners from last season -- with daps and hugs before tip-off. Later, Garnett gave good friend Rajon Rondo a sideline squeeze during a break in the action.


Playing his first game back from a broken hand and sporting a black protective glove, Pierce had a fairly quiet line with four points on 0-for-3 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. But, per usual, he did all the little things. That included taking a fourth-quarter charge (yes, bad hand and all) on Gerald Wallace when the C's were threatening to make a run. The Celtics miss those crafty plays that don't always show up in the box score.


Wallace earned a technical foul for throwing the ball off Alan Anderson after giving a foul with 33.7 seconds to play. Anderson had flipped the ball at Wallace initially after the whistle, but Wallace's flip is what the refs noticed and drew the tech.


Rookie Vitor Faverani played only 4½ minutes, picking up two fouls and finishing at minus-12 in plus/minus. .... Rookie Phil Pressey's 20-foot jumper early in the second quarter ended a 68-minute field goal drought for the rookie point guard. He hadn't made a shot since Nov. 25, a span of six games. ... Former Nets MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans were healthy DNPs. Kris Humphries played 16:38 and couldn't help slow down former frontcourt mate Lopez. ... Rookie Kelly Olynyk missed his ninth straight game due to a sprained right ankle.


The Celtics were scrappy, but Lopez's early dominance made it tough to fight all the way back (and some late whistles didn't aid their cause). Boston's win streak is over and the team fell to 10-13 but still sits atop the Atlantic Division. Reunion week continues Wednesday in Boston when the Celtics host former coach Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers on the tail end of this back-to-back. Boston closes out the calendar year by playing seven of their next eight games at TD Garden, including a visit from the Knicks on Friday.