December 10, 2013

Williams, Pierce return, lead Nets over Celtics

NEW YORK (AP) — Deron Williams scored a season-high 25 points in his return to the lineup, Brook Lopez added 24, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Boston Celtics 104-96 Tuesday night in the first matchup for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett against their former team.

Garnett had 11 points, just his third time in double figures this season, and grabbed nine rebounds.

Pierce finished with four points and seven rebounds in his first appearance off the bench in six years after making a quick recovery from a broken right hand.

But the key was Williams, who had missed nine straight games and 11 overall with a sprained left ankle, and hadn’t been sharp in the games in which he did appear.

The Nets won consecutive games for the first time this season, a stunning stat for a team that considered itself a championship contender after acquiring Pierce and Garnett in a blockbuster that was agreed to on draft night.

Both veterans had struggled, with the 12.4 points per game and .368 shooting by Pierce easily the lowest of his career before he was hurt on Nov. 29. Garnett, too, had barely made a mark, and the Nets had lost six straight at home, their longest losing streak since moving to Brooklyn.

Avery Bradley scored 22 points and Jeff Green had 19 for the Celtics, who have been competitive after trading away two of their most important players from their 2008 NBA championship team. Boston had a three-game winning streak snapped and its Atlantic Division-leading record fell to 10-13 record

The Celtics had started with 14-0 and 12-0 leads in their last two games, the latter eventually ballooning to a 45-point bulge in a 114-73 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday that was the NBA’s most lopsided game this season.

Brooklyn got off to the strong start in this one, pulled away again after Boston tied it, and put it away when Williams, who came in averaging just 9.3 points, scored eight in the final period.

Pierce was expected to miss two to four weeks, but sat out only four games before returning to practice Monday.

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