BRIAN SNYDER / Reuters
With a tired team, Doc Rivers said he was just hoping to hang on until the fourth quarter and make something happen. In the end, that's how it worked out.
The Celtics pushed and shoved for three quarters with the Nets, putting them down for good in the fourth, when they outscored them 27-15.
“We can play better,” Rivers said. “We know that, but we’ll take the win right now … I didn’t think we had a lot in the tank. I could see that. That’s why we sat our starters long stretches. I was just trying to milk the game as long as I could get it and then I’d pray at the end that we’d have enough to win it.”
Ray Allen scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth. Paul Pierce scored 6 of his 16 points from the free thrown line, using the charity stripe to kill any trace of a Nets run. Rajon Rondo scored 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting, battling with Rafer Alston (29 points, seven assists) most of the night.
It was a grind-it-out win, but after playing eight games in 12 days, they'll take it.
"We knew this was going to be a tough stretch," said Pierce. "But we were able to get through it 7-1, so we're happy with that and now we can move forward and get a couple days off before we play again."
HALFTIME: Doc Rivers had to tap his shoulders after seeing the second ugly turnover in about a minute. Ray Allen was trying to drive on Rafer Alston and didn't have anywhere to go, so he chucked it out to Rasheed Wallace, or at least in Wallace's general direction. It skipped out of bounds, not even in reaching distance for Wallace. Rajon Rondo had just made a soccer throw that sailed into the Celtics bench, killing a possession. THe Cs are down 40-39 at the break,
SECOND QUARTER, 2:40: It looked like the Celtics would be able to put together a little run with the starters back on the floor, but every time they scored, the Nets pushed back. Brook Lopez has been on the boards. And, on the whole, the Nets have out-rebounded the Cs 20-15. In other sightings: Melky Cabrera's in the crowd.
SECOND QUARTER, 5:59: Paul Pierce is crafty. He came in drew fouls on rookie Terrence Williams and vet Eduardo Najera, then knocked down four free throws to put the Celtics up 31-29
SECOND QUARTER, 7:34: The Nets are up 26-25. Dan Marino, Shannan Sharpe, Bill Cowher and James Brown are in the building.
END OF FIRST QUARTER: A Sheldon Williams bucket and free throws by Ray Allen pulled the Celtics even at the end of one, and if you're the nets, you're probably taking that as a bad sign. Rasheed Wallace drew a technical, hard to tell what for exactly. Bobby Simmons shot it, to put the Nets up 19-18. J.R. Giddens is on the floor for the Cs along with Eddie House, Scal, Wallace, and Williams.
FIRST QUARTER, 1:44: Rajon Rondo dropped an elbow jumper that made it 18-14, but turned the ball over on the other end. Scal's been effective, causing a couple turnovers (he actually stripped Bobby Simmons, who was trying to cross him up on the perimeter). Brook Lopez (6 points, three boards) looked super angry when Lawrence Frank told his guys to slow it down and set up a play.
FIRST QUARTER, 5:20: No Marquis Daniels tonight because of family issues. Brian Scalabrine is dressed and ready after tweaking his back. He'll be on the floor with Ray Allen Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett. The Nets jumped ahead early. They're up 16-12, thanks mostly to Rafer Alston, who's got 7.
WELCOME TO THE IZOD CENTER
If the Celtics are looking to bounce back, East Rutherford, N.J. seems like the best place to rebound. In six games, the Nets have found six different ways to lose. They've been held to as little as 68 points (by the same Charlotte Bobcats that the Celtics held to a franchise-low 59). They've given up as many as 123 points (to the Wizards (Gilbert Arenas poured 32 on them and said he wasn't even excited about it). They're the only team in the league without a win, and if there's an explanation it's the injury report: Tony Battie, Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas Roberts, Devin Harris, Jarvis Hayes and Yi Jianlian are all out and and Courtney Lee is questionable.
The Celtics tasted defeat for the first time last night thanks to the rebirth of the "Seven Seconds or Less" Suns. They were the last undefeated team standing, until Steve Nash and Jason Richardson blew the whole thing up. Offensive impatience and lust for the three ball have been listed as some of the reasons. A stretch of eight games in 12 days -- more than any other NBA team -- might also have something to do with it.
More updates to come, but one matchup you won't see is the one to the right. Glen Davis is simultaneously rehabbing and preparing for the NFL combine. Coaches will speak to the media in a second. We'll bring you more as it comes along.