NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce faced their former team for the first time during the regular season Tuesday night at Barclays Center, but it wasn't that emotional for them because a certain someone was missing from the Boston Celtics' sideline.
"Because [our old coach] Doc Rivers isn't over there, it's probably a little less emotional," Garnett said following Brooklyn's 104-96 victory over Boston. "You don't see Danny Ainge sitting on the side; you don't see Paul Pierce over there, Ray Allen, Eddie House. I see Rajon Rondo over there, which makes it a little more emotional at times. Those are the solid guys I went to battle with.
"Other than that, it was another night at the office, and they have been playing well. They beat the crap out of the Knicks. Obviously, we wanted to come here and play well, but it will always be a special place in my heart when I face the green."
Added Pierce: "I mean like I said before, I was already past that. My whole focus was worried about getting back healthy, coming back and trying to help my team establish something at home.
"It just happens to be a coincidence that the day I come back was against the Celtics. It'll probably be a little bit more emotional when I go to Boston. But we already had a preseason game against them. So, I'll move on."
Garnett, Pierce and Rivers won a championship their first season together in 2007-08. They all left the Celtics in the offseason. It looked as though they'd all be heading to Los Angeles to join the Clippers, but only Rivers ended up there, while Garnett and Pierce were traded to the Nets. Garnett and Pierce will face Rivers' Clippers Thursday night at Barclays Center.
Garnett and Pierce have struggled since coming to Brooklyn, but both played well Tuesday night. Garnett had 11 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes, while Pierce, coming off the bench for just the fourth time in his career after missing the past five games due to a broken bone in his right hand, finished with 4 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 22 minutes.
Pierce entered the game for the first time at the 6:27 mark of the first quarter and was cheered by both Nets and Celtics fans in attendance. Garnett shared an embrace with Rondo during a timeout in the first half.
"It was nice to see those guys," Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. "It was nice to go up against those guys and we definitely had a battle today."