Rapid Reaction: Celtics 91, Nets 84
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 91-84 on Friday night at TD Garden:
The nitty gritty: Rajon Rondo put up 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Jerryd Bayless added 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals (while finishing a team-best plus-16) to help the Celtics to only their second win in their past nine tries. Jared Sullinger grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds as Boston dominated the glass (finishing with a 51-28 advantage) against undersized Brooklyn. Joe Johnson scored a team-high 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting, while Deron Williams added 20 points for the Nets. Former Celtics captain Paul Pierce finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist in 21 minutes.
Turning point: The Celtics led by 12 at halftime and as much as 18 early in the third quarter, but the Nets were so cold in the first half, you figured they had to charge at some point. Sure enough, Brooklyn embarked on a 22-6 run to surge within two (70-68) with two minutes to play in the third frame. Fortunately for Boston, the Nets went ice cold again and Boston extended its lead back to 11 just two minutes into the fourth quarter after consecutive buckets by Bayless. The Nets never truly threatened again as Boston posted a wire-to-wire victory.
Loose balls: The Nets shot just 36.3 percent from the field overall (29-of-80) and, after missing 16 straight 3-pointers to start the game, finished 4-of-30 beyond the arc (13.3 percent). Boston turned the ball over a whopping 28 times but limited the damage (26 points) and shot 44.3 percent from the floor overall. Rondo made three first-quarter 3-pointers while setting a new career-high for 3-pointers in a season. Phil Pressey deserves a nod for being plus-15 in 13 minutes of floor time.
What it means: The Celtics (21-41) snapped a two-game losing streak. They're also likely to climb a bit in the standings after entering with the fourth-worst record in basketball. Boston wraps up this five-game homestand on Sunday with a visit from the Detroit Pistons. A trip to Indiana looms on Tuesday before the Celtics return home for visits from the New York Knicks (Wednesday) and Phoenix Suns (Friday).
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