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Saturday night the Boston Celtics faced off against one of the worst teams in the NBA in the New Jersey Nets (0-7), but it was a much closer game then most people anticipated. After losing to the Phoenix Suns Friday night, the Celtics traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the winless Nets in what was a back-and-forth affair between the two teams. The Celtics came away with the 86-76 win by outscoring the Nets 27-15 in the fourth quarter.
For the Celtics, the Big Three didn’t put up big numbers like Kevin Garnett’s 26 points on Friday, but rather used the team’s deep bench to help avoid back-to-back losses. Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce led the way for the C’s with 16 points apiece. Ray Allen added 12 points, with eight of them coming in the fourth quarter. Garnett struggled from the field as he shot 3-for-13, but still chipped in nine points to go along with his 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Doc Rivers was able to rest most of his starters while he had both Rasheed Wallace (24 minutes) and Brian Scalabrine (20 minutes) come off the bench to help the team out. Wallace had nine points on the game with four rebounds and four steals. Marquis Daniels was not with the team as he was out due to personal reasons.
Boston improved it’s defense from it’s game against the Suns, in which they allowed 110 points, and were able to force the Nets to commit 24 turnovers, with an NBA season-high 20 steals, led by Rondo with five thefts. With strong defense, the Celtics were able to overcome their poor shooting for the night in which they went 1-for-10 from beyond the arc with Scalabrine making the team’s only three-point-shot.
The Nets came into the game with only eight active players for the night, and all eight of them got in the game. New Jersey’s only active starter was center Brooke Lopez, who led the team with a game-high 23 points while pulling down seven rebounds and logging 41 minutes. With the league minimum for active players in a game, Rafer Alston had to play a game-high 44 minutes, finishing with 20 points, seven assists and six turnovers. The Nets’ lineup was so depleted that they had to play rookie Terrence Williams 30 minutes off the bench (eight points, nine rebounds and two assists).
At halftime the Nets were ahead of the Celtics by one point and led by two points going into the fourth quarter before Allen finally showed up to play. Allen went 1-for-7 through the first three quarters but was able to finish the game 5-for-13 with many strong scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter.
The C’s were able to shoot 44.9% for the game along with 79.3% from the free-throw line (23-for-29); whereas the Nets shot 43.1% for the game, 45.5% from behind the arc (5-for-11) and 64.3% from the charity stripe (9-for-14).
The Celtics will have a couple days off as the team will play the Utah Jazz (2-4) at home on Wednesday.