Final: Celtics 89, Nets 83. Despite battling streaky shooting, foul trouble and a devastating injury to Delonte West, the Celtics have emerged with a dramatic victory over the New Jersey Nets.
The C's aren't thankful to lose West for the foreseeable future with a broken right wrist, but they're most definitely grateful to leave the Garden on Wednesday night with a comeback win. The C's have won this one for Delonte.
Shaquille O'Neal leads the Celtics to victory, playing his best game of the season and finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce adds 16, and Ray Allen chips in 15 for the C's in the thrilling win.
Devin Harris cranks out 20 points, five assists, two rebounds and a steal in an impressive, but losing, effort.
The C's have Thanksgiving Day off before returning to action Friday night, when they'll take on the Toronto Raptors at the TD Garden.
Fourth quarter, 23.2 seconds, Celtics 87-81: This might be a long 23.2 seconds. The Nets foul Paul Pierce immediately on the inbound, putting the captain at the line. The C's likely have this game won, but it might be a slow and painful process to wrap it up.
Fourth quarter, 38.3 seconds, Celtics 85-78: Now the Celtics are slamming the door. Nate Robinson just knocked down a huge 3, then Shaq grabbed his 11th rebound of the night and sent the Celtics running on a fast break. KG with the finish, and the C's lead by nine.
What a night. The C's are poised to finish a dramatic win.
Fourth quarter, 2:04, Celtics 82-73: This one's just about over. The Celtics are just hitting every single clutch shot they take, and it's making the difference. Paul Pierce's elbow jumper extends the lead to nine, with just over two minutes to play.
New Jersey coach Avery Johnson has called for a quick timeout. He needs his shooters to get hot right away. The Celtics are one or two stops away from finish this thing.
Fourth quarter, 3:26, Celtics 78-72: Ray Allen might have just broken the Nets' backs. He drains a corner 3 to stretch the Boston lead to six, and the Nets might be running out of steam now.
Ray has 15 points in this one, including 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He's been overshadowed by Shaq's monster night (25 points, nine rebounds so far), but he's had a nice evening in his own right.
Fourth quarter, 5:35, Celtics 72-70: Jordan Farmar is no stranger to playing big emotional games in front of the TD Garden crowd — he's done it for years as a former L.A. Laker. Farmar knocks down a big shot here, hitting a deep 3 to cut the Boston lead to two.
The Celtics can't let up now. They have the lead, but it'll vanish quick if they get complacent. The Nets are loaded with outside shooters that can slash their lead in a heartbeat.
Fourth quarter, 7:06, Celtics 72-67: You know things are going well for the Celtics when Shaquille O'Neal is 6-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Shaq gets to the line and drains two after a nasty foul from Kris Humphries. He's now got 24 points and eight rebounds, carrying the Celtics into the lead.
Can they hold it if Shaq comes out? The big fella can't have too many minutes left in him.
Fourth quarter, 9:09, Celtics 67-65: Ladies and gentlemen, the TD Garden is rocking. Ray Allen just found Shaquille O'Neal in transition for an alley-oop, and Shaq finished with authority.
The Celtics have the lead, the momentum, and an insanely loud crowd on their side.
This might be the most emotional November game ever played between the Celtics and Nets.
Fourth quarter, 9:41, 65-65: Shaquille O'Neal gets to the line for two shots with a chance to tie the game, and guess what? He makes them both.
The C's have come all the way back. They've got a clean slate for these final 10 minutes.
End of third quarter, Nets 63-61: The Celtics are without Delonte West, they're frustrated, and two of their starters are battling foul trouble. But through it all, they're still alive.
The C's are down just two points against the New Jersey Nets heading into the fourth quarter. A big, unheralded reason why: Marquis Daniels. 'Quis has four points, three assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block for the Celtics, filling the void for Delonte West in a big way.
The C's have 12 minutes to win this one for the departed Delonte. Can they do it?
Third quarter, 2:04, Nets 59-57: Marquis Daniels just launched the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy with a diving play to save a Celtic possession, hurling a loose ball inbounds to Paul Pierce.
Pierce takes the 3 for the lead, but it clangs out. That lets the air out of the Garden in a hurry.
The silver lining? This crowd is alive for the first time all night.
Third quarter, 3:47, Nets 57-54: Kevin Garnett just connected on his trademark long two, cutting the Nets' lead down to three points with just under four minutes to play. The C's are far from dead.
Does "win one for Delonte" have a nice ring to it? I think it does.
Third quarter, 6:29, Nets 53-46: Just when it looked like the Celtics had a comeback up their sleeves, Travis Outlaw had to knock down a wide-open corner 3 to put the Nets back up by seven.
The C's need to string a whole bunch of stops together, and fast.
The Nets have had their number all night. This is eerily reminiscent of last February.
Third quarter, 10:03, Nets 48-38: The bad news just keeps piling up for Boston. The Nets have opened a double-digit lead over the Celtics, but even worse, Delonte West has broken his right wrist, the team has announced.
The C's are in serious trouble. Delonte is done for the night, and possibly for months. Rajon Rondo's hurt too. Nate Robinson's in foul trouble. Avery Bradley is just beginning to return from his ankle injury.
Doc Rivers has a serious shortage of guards, both now and going forward.
Halftime, Nets 46-38: Insult has been added to injury for the Celtics to close the first half, quite literally.
Delonte West left the C's bench early clutching his wrist; he fell on his arm on one possession toward the end of the first half, and it's quite possible West is looking at a broken bone. The fall didn't look pretty.
To make matters worse for the Celtics, they're trailing the Nets by eight points at halftime. Anthony Morrow has 11 points and Devin Harris, 10 for New Jersey.
The one bright spot for the C's has been Shaquille O'Neal, who gives them another monster first half. He leads the team with 12 points on an efficient 6-of-7 shooting clip.
Second quarter, 3:26, Nets 40-32: Here's one thing the Celtics aren't thankful for this holiday season — Anthony Morrow is absolutely killing them. The Nets' sharpshooter knocks down a 25-footer here off of a Kris Humphries assist, stretching New Jersey's lead to eight.
When will the C's wake up and take control of this game? It's been a rocky first half all around.
Morrow has 11 points to lead the way for the Nets.
Second quarter, 5:55, Nets 31-26: Shaquille O'Neal and Delonte West have outstanding chemistry. It's almost like they played together last year.
Oh, right, they did. West passes up a nice look at a corner 3, making a shrewd lob inside to his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate. Shaq finishes at the rim — he's now got 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting to lead the Celtics.
The Celtics' only problem is that everyone not named Shaquille is shooting a combined 6-for-24. A minor speed bump, you could say.
Second quarter, 8:23, Nets 25-18: Doc Rivers calls for a timeout. It's about time — the Nets have opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run.
Johan Petro is lighting the Celtics up. He's got six points in the second quarter, and the C's have no answer.
Second quarter, 9:48, Nets 21-18: The Celtics' second unit is really struggling. They haven't gotten a good look at the basket in several minutes — it's been all turnovers, bad passes and bad shots.
Right now it's Shaq out on the floor with the rest of the Boston bench mob. The unit looks really dysfunctional for some reason.
Ubuntu is a concept lost on these guys tonight.
End of first quarter, Celtics 18-17: The first quarter has come to a close, and so far, we're looking at a dragged-out defensive struggle of a basketball game. The Celtics are shooting 36.4 percent from the field as a team, and the Nets aren't a whole lot better at 42.9 percent.
The Celtics haven't been at their best offensively, in terms of ball movement and smart shot selection. You don't want to say they got complacent after Monday's thrashing of the Hawks, but that's how it looks so far.
First quarter, 3:28, Celtics 16-12: Both teams have been slow with the bench scoring so far. Glen Davis just gave the Celtics their first two points from the second unit; Jordan Farmar, Damion James and the heralded rookie Derrick Favors are currently scoreless for the Nets.
Doc Rivers would love nothing more than to ride his bench to a win in this one. His starters need all the rest they can get.
First quarter, 4:56, Celtics 14-12: Doc Rivers was raving before this game about the raw shooting ability of Anthony Morrow. It's plain to see why. The dude's lighting it up right now. A couple of nice jumpers from Morrow are keeping things close for the Nets.
Morrow's 2-for-2 from the field early, giving him four points and two rebounds to lead the way for New Jersey.
First quarter, 6:58, Celtics 9-8: The Celtics have an early edge in field goal percentage — they're 3-for-6 so far, the Nets are 2-for-6.
Getting these Nets to settle for outside shots is half the battle — if Shaq and Kevin Garnett can use their muscle in the paint to force New Jersey's bigs outside, they're doing their jobs well.
Brook Lopez, for example, is 1-for-3 so far, and the only make was a 21-footer from the top of the key. The C's will let him have that shot all night. That shot's not beating them.
First quarter, 9:10, Celtics 6-4: The Celtics' offense has looked fairly one-dimensional so far. Shaquille O'Neal is the only dimension.
The C's have an early 6-4 lead, and Shaq has scored all six of their points. He's a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.
We haven't seen a single center in the NBA these last two weeks that can contain Shaq when he comes out strong in the first quarter. Many have tried, all have failed.
First quarter, 11:35, Celtics 2-0: We're underway, and Nate Robinson is already making the most of his first start in a white Celtics uniform. Nate gets the hockey assist on the Celtics' opening basket, dishing to Kevin Garnett who drops it to Shaquille O'Neal for the bucket inside.
The C's have an early lead. If Nate keeps running the floor with confidence, they should keep it.
6:30 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where as expected, Rajon Rondo will not start for the Celtics as he continues to rest his left hamstring.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers also said that Rondo isn't likely to play Friday night against Toronto — if there are any doubts at all, the coach said, Rondo will simply rest until next week. The C's have three days off before they hit the road Tuesday to visit the Cavaliers.
Nate Robinson will again start in Rondo's place. He's averaging 19.0 points per game in his only two starts in a Celtics uniform.
3:30 p.m.: Four hours to game time, and we still have no idea whether Rajon Rondo will lace 'em up and give it a go Wednesday night against the Nets.
Rondo seems to be on the road to recovery from a hamstring strain, and he was present at the team's shootaround at the TD Garden on Wednesday morning. But he's still considered a game-time decision.
Rondo's a competitor, and he no doubt wants to be out there. But Doc Rivers and the team's medical staff are far more cautious — rather than take their chances on a November game against the Nets, they would prefer to play it safe and make sure a more serious injury doesn't develop.
Rondo's young and resilient, so he might make a surprise comeback Wednesday. We shall see.
8 a.m.: The Celtics are deep and loaded with future Hall of Famers. But they're still prone to the occasional slip-up on their home floor, when they get lazy and forget to show up for a game they think they have in the bag.
Prime example: last time the C's took on the New Jersey Nets. It was Feb. 27, and the Nets landed in Boston as the league's absolute worst team at 5-52. But they came out motivated to earn a statement win, and the C's didn't look like they wanted it. The result was a bloodbath of a game, with the Nets getting to the line 41 times and disgracing the Celtics on their home floor.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett still remember being booed off the TD Garden floor that night. If they're good leaders, they'll prove it by carrying their team in a revenge bid at the Garden on Wednesday night.
The C's are 10-4 and taking on the 5-9 Nets, who are closing out a back-to-back.