NEW YORK -- Doc Rivers didn't expect this.
Before Thursday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers' coach saw Kevin Garnett, a former player of his in Boston, approaching him. This wasn't the Garnett he came to know in Boston.
"I was shocked that Kevin came over before the game, because he has a routine," Rivers said. "I turned to [assistant Tyronn Lue] and said, 'Well, Kevin's going to struggle now. He just broke his routine.'"
One night after a touching return to Boston, Rivers faced former Celtics in Garnett and Paul Pierce for the first time since they all left Boston in the offseason. The three were together in Boston for six years, winning a title in 2008, before being traded this offseason. The Nets prevailed Thursday, beating the Clippers 102-93.
It marked the first game Rivers coached against Pierce since April 12, 2003, and the first versus Garnett since March 4, 2007.
"It was great," Rivers said.
Rivers coached Pierce for nine years and Garnett for six, enjoying sustained success during their time together.
The Clippers played the Nets earlier this season on Nov. 16, but both Pierce and Garnett sat out, making this the first battle. Pierce scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Garnett had two points.
While Wednesday was an emotional night for Rivers, as he returned to Boston and was honored for his nine years there, Rivers said before Thursday's game it was going to be a "fun" night. He did add it was going to be "strange" going against that duo.
Rivers said the three talk all the time but indicated their conversation Thursday was brief.
"They were both really happy about [Wednesday] night, is basically what they both said," he said.