Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 11/20

Game 1: Wednesday, November 20th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 25th
Game 3: Thursday, March 13th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 18th

Nets 79

(8-4, 2-3 away)

Celtics 96

(7-4, 4-2 home)

    7:00 PM ET, November 20, 2002

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 21 16 14 2879
    BOS 23 21 29 2396

    Top Performers

    New Jersey: R. Jefferson 16 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

    Boston: S. Williams 21 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    Celtics limit Nets to 14 third-quarter points

    BOSTON (AP) -- Any excitement the Boston Celtics might have felt after beating New Jersey was tempered by the knowledge that it wasn't the victory they wanted.



    "It doesn't mean nothing,'' Celtics guard Paul Pierce said Wednesday night after Boston beat the Nets 96-79 in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference finals. "This game doesn't put us into the NBA Finals. It's a regular-season game, and we play Atlanta on Friday.''

    Tony Delk and Shammond Williams each scored 21 points -- the first time all season that neither Pierce nor Antoine Walker led the Celtics in scoring. Pierce had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Walker added 16 points as the Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak.

    The teams did nothing to calm the budding rivalry that flourished in last year's playoffs, when the Nets bristled at Boston's behavior after their 26-point collapse in Game 3. Taunts directed toward Jason Kidd's wife and son by Celtics fans brought emotions to the boiling point before the Nets won in six games and advanced to the NBA Finals.

    Although both teams are once again near the top of the conference standings, neither put much importance on the early-season meeting.

    "The rivalry started in the playoffs,'' Kidd said, "and it will have to continue in the playoffs, not the regular season.''

    Boston shot 14-for-25 from 3-point range, and Delk went 6-for-7. Williams had a career-high nine rebounds -- sharing the floor with Delk instead of taking turns to keep Kidd from dominating the point.

    "The big two didn't have their 'A' game tonight,'' said Kidd, who scored 19. "So it shows they're different from last year.''

    Rodney Rogers, who played for Boston at the end of last season before leaving as a free agent, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Dikembe Mutombo had 13 rebounds for the Nets, who scored just 14 points on 4-for-22 shooting while giving the game away in the third quarter.

    "We were terrible tonight,'' Nets coach Byron Scott said. "I don't understand how you can come in here, especially against a team that you know is going to play you extremely hard, that wants to beat you badly ... and we come out with a lackadaisical effort.''

    Wednesday's rematch lacked the importance or the drama of the playoff series, as the Celtics took a double-digit lead with a pair of 11-0 runs in the third quarter and never looked back.

    The Celtics led 44-39 early in the third before scoring 11 consecutive points, getting a dunk from Tony Battie, two 3-pointers from Pierce and one from Delk. Later in the third, Boston turned a 60-48 lead into a 22-point game with another 11-0 run, punctuated by a breakaway dunk by Williams with 5 seconds left in the quarter.

    Williams was called for a technical foul -- the fifth in the game -- for hanging on the rim, and Kidd sank the free throw to make it 73-51 heading into the fourth. New Jersey cut it to 14 in the fourth on Kenyon Martin's three-point play, but the Celtics would not reprise the Nets' unprecedented collapse in last season's playoffs.

    Game notes

    Pierce, in a shooting slump this season, went back to the shoes he wore last year. ... Celtics coach Jim O'Brien was called for a technical in the second quarter for complaining about an offensive foul on Walker, who actually traveled. ... A few minutes later, after another foul against Boston, O'Brien had to be restrained by assistant coach Lester Conner from going onto the court to argue again. ... Battie was called for a technical while on the bench. ... Vin Baker and Mutombo were called for matching technicals late in the first half for waving their fingers in each others' face after Baker took exception to an elbow underneath the basket.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 79 96
    FGM-FGA 30-87 (.345) 35-80 (.438)
    3PM-3PA 4-11 (.364) 14-25 (.560)
    FTM-FTA 15-26 (.577) 12-23 (.522)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 16-46 15-57
    Assists 21 21
    Turnovers 16 18
    Steals 10 11
    Blocks 9 6
    Fast Break Points 6 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 22 (4/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Richard Jefferson Jefferson
    Points: 16
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 3
    Shammond Williams Williams
    Points: 21
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0