Live Blog: Celtics vs. Nets

Live Blog: Celtics vs. Nets Final, Celtics 96-87: A sigh of relief and a less-than-pleased walk to the exits for fans here at the Garden as the Celtics win their third straight but look downright ugly at times in doing so.

But a win is a win and one without Paul Pierce counts for something. In this case, it improves Boston to 32-16 and moves it into a tie with Orlando (33-17) for second place in the Eastern Conference.

The Magic, who lost at home to Washington, visit Boston on Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. start.

Both Pierce and Marquis Daniels may return for that one, the club's last home game before the All-Star break.

Ray Allen leads the way with 26 points. Rajon Rondo has 17 and 11 assists. Glen Davis and Eddie House combine for 23 off the bench.

New Jersey, which had all five starters in double figures, falls for the 13th straight time on the road, the fifth straight time overall and now rests at 4-45. The Nets grace us with their presence later this month, when they will try to snap a 12-game slide in the series with the Celtics.

Fourth quarter, 56.1 seconds, Celtics 95-87: Rajon Rondo's 11th assist looks like a lot of others as he penetrates and dishes to a wide-open Kevin Garnett, who hits from about 18 feet to make it a three-possession game.

Those two have perfected that play.

Fourth quarter, 1:20, Celtics 93-87: The Nets entered this one shooting 28.8 percent from 3-point range, 29th in the league. But they've made 5-of-10 in this one to hang around.

Fourth quarter, 2:00, Celtics 93-84: Ray Allen joins Eddie House in the outside barrage that has begun to bury the Nets.

Allen leads all scorers with 26 points, one shy of a season high.

Fourth quarter, 2:40, Celtics 88-84: Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins finally return.

Fourth quarter, 3:12, Celtics 88-84: Shows what I know. The Eddie House 3-pointer was taken completely off the board and ruled as a shot clock violation.

The Nets bury a 3-pointer moments later and it is a six-point swing!

Fourth quarter, 3:40, Celtics 91-81: Eddie House's last 3-pointer is under review so this may end up being a nine-point bulge.

Fourth quarter, 3:40, Celtics 91-81: Eddie House drills another 3-pointer and now has 13 points in the fourth quarter. Included in the outburst are three 3-pointers, the latest without a Net in sight.

Not sure how they can leave the hottest player on the court that open.

It gives Boston the game's first double-digit lead.

Fourth quarter, 5:30, Celtics 86-77: The Celtics take their largest lead on baskets by Eddie House and Ray Allen.

The defense, finally, has suffocated this measly Nets attack, but it took all night.

Fourth quarter, 6:31, Celtics 82-77: Glen Davis with back-to-back offensive rebounds, yet the third time is not a charm on the possession as Bill Walker travels.

The Nets give it right back with the same violation, their 14th turnover of the game.

Fourth quarter, 8:58, Celtics 77-75: I swear I mean to look this up every time it happens but forget to until he reminds me. Eddie House always seems to get hot in the fourth quarter.

He was 0-of-5 from the floor before hitting two shots in a minute, the second from long range to give Boston its second two-point lead of the second half.

Fourth quarter, 9:39, Celtics 74-73: Nobody can find the hoop in the fourth until Eddie House hits a short jumper, his first in six attempts.

End of third quarter, Nets 73-72: Unless you are a New Jersey die-hard, it is difficult to remember each of their losses. But it's rather easy to recall the wins, and the Celtics have 12 minutes to avoid being added to that short list.

They took a small step in the third quarter by tightening up the defense (the Brook Lopez dunk in the last minute a notable exception). Still, trailing to this team with a quarter to play is not a place Boston wanted to be.

You know, that whole keep-a-team-around-and-watch-their-confidence-grow kinda thing.

Third quarter, 1:47, Celtics 70-69: In case anyone is wondering, the Nets have lost 12 straight on the road. Their last win away from home (only road win all season) came at Chicago on Dec. 8.

Third quarter, 3:03, Nets 69-68: The one category in which the Nets have shined this year is free-throw shooting.

They entered ranked fifth in the league with a 77.9 percent mark from the line and are right at it thus far in this one, making 18 of 23.

Third quarter, 3:45, Celtics 68-67: Rajon Rondo gets credit for the hoop after two Nets tip in a miss.

Third quarter, 4:48, Nets 65-64: Ray Allen has 10 points this quarter, the last five coming on a nifty feed from Kendrick Perkins and Allen's second 3-pointer of the game.

Yet, the Nets take the lead (again) on a pair of Devin Harris free throws.

Third quarter, 7:43, Celtics 58-57: Ray Allen has 16 points after a shot from the top of the key beats the shot clock buzzer. It was met with lukewarm applause by a crowd that seems to be wondering if it is seeing indifference or ineffectiveness by the Celtics.

Third quarter, 9:15, Celtics 56-55: Kevin Garnett cannot finish an alley-oop and there are groans throughout the Garden, some for the lack of two points, others likely for the fact that he just does not have that lift.

Moments later Rajon Rondo tosses a behind-the-back pass to Ray Allen for what leads to a three-point play and a Celtics lead.

Third quarter, 11:55, Nets 55-51: Underway in the second half. Just a note from the back halls of the Garden.

Walking around for a few things (Hershey bar, gum, water) I heard the words "If they lose to the Nets … " three times. It's certainly on our minds.

Halftime, Nets 55-51: New Jersey ends the half on a 19-10 run and you can credit its defense, which flummoxed the C's down the stretch here.

Boston winds up shooting 36.8 percent in the second quarter, going just 4-of-17 over the last 10-plus minutes.

On the other side, we have the NBA's lowest scoring and worst shooting team posting 55 points on a 63.3 percent clip.

It was just enough to elicit some boos as Boston left the court.

Second quarter, 1:15, Nets 54-49: The Celtics have been held in check this quarter by some defensive schemes for New Jersey, which is playing somewhat of a soft man-to-man and jumping guys into double-teams often. It almost resembles a zone at times.

Second quarter, 1:37, Nets 50-49: Boston led by 36 points at this point in the game when it last played New Jersey. Thirty-six!

New Jersey can take its largest lead on this possession.

Second quarter, 2:50, Nets 48-47: Fans react both to the call and to Kendrick Perkins when he is whistled for an offensive foul, part of a rough first half for the big man.

On the very next possession Perkins grabs an offensive rebound and gets mugged by Brook Lopez. Perkins emerged from the play with his trademark scowl, some of which seemed to show frustration.

Perk has four points and two boards in 12 minutes.

Second quarter, 4:21, Celtics 45-44: The Celtics have exactly one rebound in the second quarter, due in large part to the Nets' 6-of-7 shooting.

Second quarter, 5:45, 41-41: There are conversations taking place in the rafters we can hear clearly in media row.

And with every minute that sees the Nets hang around they get a bit angrier in tone.

Brook Lopez can give New Jersey the lead from the line after the timeout.

Second quarter, 7:03, Celtics 41-39: Bill Walker got into the act when the Celtics routed the Nets last month and is getting some early action in this one.

Walker had season highs in virtually every category (six points, two rebounds, two assists) in the win. He just checked in moments ago.

Second quarter, 8:44, Celtics 37-32: This is the second straight game in which a Celtics opponent has burned up the nets in the first half.

Miami shot somewhere around 60 percent in the first 24 minutes on Wednesday and New Jersey is currently camped at 61.9 (13-of-21). This from the worst shooting team in the NBA (42.2 percent).

Second quarter, 9:34, Celtics 35-30: It's a tad surprising that Rajon Rondo "only" has 10 points and four assists thus far. While impressive numbers it seems as if he can do whatever the heck he wants against these guys every time he touches the basketball.

On a side note, this place is like a funeral home – cold and quiet. You can probably pay your respects to the Nets midway through the third quarter.

End of first quarter, Celtics 29-25: It wasn't quite like the first quarter when these teams last met (Celtics 38-22) but it ends on a great note for Boston.

On the Celtics' final possession of the quarter Rajon Rondo surveyed the scene for much of the shot clock before lofting a pass to Rasheed Wallace, who batted a touch-pass to a cutting Glen Davis for a layup.

Boston shoots 57.1 percent and has nine assists on 12 baskets in the first quarter.

First quarter, 1:04, Celtics 25-23: Keyon Dooling meet Rajon Rondo.

First quarter, 2:20, Celtics 21-20: A nice hustle play by Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace keeps a possession alive for the Celtics here.

Rough opening stretch for Kendrick Perkins, who threw a ball to nobody in particular moments ago for the Celtics' second turnover.

Perkins is the lone starter not in the scoring column and one of his two misses was a bunny.

First quarter, 3:50, Celtics 21-17: We just had a glimpse of what makes Rajon Rondo truly special.

He brought the ball up and wanted to get it to Tony Allen on the wing. Rondo stared at Allen for the better part of 12 seconds while Allen struggled to get open, at times holdings has palms out as if to say, "What do you want me to do?"

Rondo finally got upset and decided to do it himself, spinning into the lane in a heartbeat and finding a wide-open Kevin Garnett for a jumper.

First quarter, 5:22, Celtics 17-13: It is somewhat doubtful that the Ray Allen trade rumors were getting to him during a recent slump, but for whatever reason he has snapped out of it over the past couple of games as the rumors slow down a bit.

After a January which saw him shoot 31.9 percent from 3-point range and average just 14.6 points, he is poured in 40 points in his first two games of February and is off quick in this one.

Allen has nine points and three rebounds in the game's first six-plus minutes.

First quarter, 6:00, 13-12: Jarvis Hayes knocks down a 3-pointer and the Nets have their first lead.

First quarter, 7:12, Celtics 10-8: We are met with our first sequence to show just how much of a mismatch this is.

First, Yi Jianlian nearly breaks the backboard with a short jumper, leading to a feathery shot from inside the lane by Rajon Rondo on the other end.

Seconds later a Net throws a pass to where another Net was supposed to be, only the second Net had moved away from said spot. Kevin Garnett then found Ray Allen in a 4-on-1 that was remarkable for its ease.

First quarter, 9:56, 2-2: Kevin Garnett beats the shot clock buzzer to get the Celtics on the board, moments after Yi Jianlian flew past Kendrick Perkins, who had Yi in a switch, for a layup.

First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: We're underway from the Garden and it's a tad tame for a Friday night crowd. Hard to get too charged up over a 4-44 opponent, I guess.

It'll be interesting to see how the Celts come out in this one. They flat-out toyed with New Jersey in the last meeting before putting it on cruise control in the second half, playing 24 relatively meaningless minutes.

Boston is just 5-6 on Fridays this season, for what it's worth.

7:00 p.m.: Greetings from the Garden, where we are getting set for a matchup of the haves and have-nots of the Atlantic Division.

It has been confirmed that Paul Pierce will not play and his status remains in doubt for Sunday, despite some heavy workouts by the captain before the game.

"He's day-to-day," Doc Rivers just said. "That's all it really is. He's moving around, shooting a little. I don't know, I really don't."

Rivers said that decisions on Pierce and Marquis Daniels will be made Saturday in advance of the Super Bowl Sunday matinee against Orlando. Tony Allen will start again in Pierce's place.

With an opponent such as the Nets in town, there were fewer questions posed to Rivers which dealt with strategy and such things. But he gave a take on how, as a coach, you cope when wins are so few and far between. Rivers, remember, guided the Celtics to a 24-58 mark a few seasons ago, suffering through an 18-game losing streak in the process.

"I just worked every day. We did a lot of individual work every single day. Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, those guys, we just wanted to make them better players and hoped that the win would come."

It's come just once in the last 16 games for the lowly Nets, who start Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Jarvis Hayes, Yi Jianlian and Brook Lopez.

Alongside Allen will be Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.

1:51 p.m.: Paul Pierce or no Paul Pierce, the Celtics have a wonderful chance at posting their first three-game winning streak since Christmas when they host the pitiful New Jersey Nets.

Usually, games against last-place teams don't conjure up much in the way of excitement, but the sheer ineptitude of the Nets — sitting at 4-44 and on pace for the worst record in league history — brings some interest to this one.

Sure enough, the last time these two teams met it was worth the watch. In that meeting back on Jan. 13, Boston led by as many as 36 points in a stunning first half, far and away the most dominant half the C's have played all season. And they did it without both Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace.

New Jersey is 1-9 since and on a four-game losing streak after Wednesday's 108-99 loss in Toronto.

Pierce will most certainly miss his second straight game with a foot injury but is targeting Sunday against Orlando as a return date. Frankly, there's no need to rush him back to play against the league's worst offense.

Without their captain on Wednesday, the Celtics held on for a 107-102 win over Miami. It was actually Boston's best offensive showing since the win over the Nets, when the C's shot 53.1 percent in winning their 11th straight over New Jersey.

We will be courtside following what should be a cakewalk for Boston. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.

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