BOSTON (AP) — Andray Blatche scored 17 points and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Boston Celtics 85-79 on Sunday night as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returned to their former home court for the first time since being traded last July.
The cornerstones of the Celtics’ 2008 championship team received video tributes early in the game with career highlights shown on the scoreboard. They didn’t have any highlights on the court until Garnett stole the ball from Rajon Rondo and dribbled ahead of the field for a layup that ended Boston’s last threat.
That put the Nets ahead 82-77 with 20 seconds left and secured their 10th win in 11 games.
The Celtics, losing for the 17th time in 20 games, were led by Brandon Bass with 17 points and Rondo with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Pierce and Garnett scored just six points each, and Pierce missed eight of his 10 shots. But they received several standing ovations early in the game on the court where they won the team’s 17th championship.
During the video tribute to Garnett in a timeout with 2:25 left in the first quarter, he stood near his bench with a white towel draped over his head. He smiled, pounded the left side of his chest and waved several times to the crowd.
The tribute to Pierce at the end of the first quarter was longer and drew a louder ovation. He looked up at the video board above center court with a somber expression. The camera panned to him on the court showing him repeatedly mouthing the words, “thank you.”
Pierce spent 15 seasons with the Celtics after they drafted him with the 10th pick in 1998. Garnett was obtained in a trade with Minnesota before the 2007-08 season and, with Pierce and Ray Allen, led Boston to their most recent championship.
But the Celtics are in full rebuilding mode now and trailed 59-53 after three quarters then allowed the first six points of the fourth as the Nets led by 12. Boston cut the lead to 73-70 on a 3-pointer by Chris Johnson, playing on a 10-day contract, with 4:37 remaining.
But the Nets scored the next five points on a layup by Andrei Kirilenko, a free throw by Deron Williams and a jumper by Pierce. That made it 78-70.
With the score 80-72, Boston cut the deficit to three points on a field goal by Bass and a 3-pointer by Rondo, two of only five current Celtics who played with Pierce and Garnett last season.
Joe Johnson then missed his shot and Rondo rebounded. He moved the ball upcourt only to lose it to Garnett, who went in for Brooklyn’s final field goal.
Pierce, the second-leading scorer in Celtics history, scored his first two points of the game on free throws 1:08 into the third quarter then hit his first field goal, a 16-foot jumper that capped a 10-0 Nets run 2:51 into the period. The Celtics, trailing 45-36, immediately called timeout.
NOTES: The crowd gave Pierce and Garnett a standing ovation when they took the court for pregame warm-ups and when they were the last two Nets starters introduced. … Garnett won the opening tip against Bass and got the ball back to Pierce. … The Celtics recalled center Vitor Faverani from the Maine Red Claws of the NBDL.