THE NITTY GRITTY
Thank goodness the focus of this one wasn't on the actual basketball game in the early going. The first 40 minutes were an absolute eyesore, masked kindly by a celebration of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, with the duo playing its first game back in Boston (hop HERE to watch the chills-inducing tribute videos that ran during the first half of the game). The teams combined to shoot 38.6 percent, but the Nets got a team-high 17 points from Andray Blatche, while Andrei Kirilenko and Alan Anderson kicked in 11 points apiece. Garnett and Pierce finished with six points apiece, but had some key late baskets. Brandon Bass, back in the starting lineup on Sunday, turned in a team-high 17 points while Rajon Rondo added 13 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists over a season-high 30:21.
Despite trailing by as many as 12 points and mustering just 53 points through three quarters, the Celtics actually made a fourth-quarter charge. Boston scored 14 points in less than four minutes, capped by a Chris Johnson 3-pointer that trimmed Brooklyn's lead to 73-70 with 4:38 to play. The Nets pushed their lead back to eight, but Boston made another charge, this time a 3-pointer by Rondo pulling Boston back within three at 80-77 with 35.6 seconds to go. The Celtics got a chance to tie, but a turnover led to a Garnett breakaway layup that essentially sealed the game.
The Celtics turned the ball over 18 times for 17 points. At one point late in the third quarter, the Celtics had more turnovers than made baskets. ... Joel Anthony and Vander Blue logged healthy DNPs. ... Vitor Faverani, fresh off a quick D-League assignment on Saturday, played five minutes and hit the only shot he took while registering two points and a rebound. ... Gerald Wallace played nearly 41 minutes against his former team, turning in 12 points and five rebounds, but was a team-worst minus-14 overall. ... Jeff Green missed 11 of the 13 shots he took while finishing with eight points.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (15-31) lost their second straight and fell for the 14th time in 16 games. Boston still owns the fourth-worst record in the league. The Celtics open a back-to-back on Tuesday in New York before returning home to play the 76ers on Wednesday. The best part for Boston is that all the emotional returns are complete and the team now should be able to focus on building toward its future over the final three months of the season.