The Brooklyn Nets nudged above .500 this week for the first time this season, and they appeared to be in good shape with a Friday night visit to the Boston Celtics, who had dropped eight of their last 10 games. But the Nets settled for jump shots and showed no grit on the glass as the Celtics prevailed 91-84.
Rajon Rondo ruled the game with 20 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. He was also responsible for seven of the Celtics' 28 turnovers, which is more than enough to open a wholesale bakery, but they were able to overcome the sloppy play. Jeff Green scored 15 points, and Jared Sullinger snagged 12 rebounds off the bench.
Joe Johnson led Brooklyn with 21 points. Deron Williams added 20 and dished four assists. The Nets also shot just 36 percent and lost the rebounding battle 51-28.
Brooklyn won Paul Pierce's first return to Boston back on Jan. 26, and Pierce started strong with 10 first-half points. However, he aggravated a stinger in his shoulder and neck area and failed to score in the second half. Kevin Garnett sat out with back spasms.
The Celtics romped to a 53-41 halftime lead as the Nets missed all 17 of their three-point attempts. The Nets trailed by 18 in the third quarter, then trailed by just two in the same period, but they never got closer than that and scored just 14 points in the fourth.
Brooklyn had been on a 20-8 tear since New Year's Day, but not even a 28-14 advantage in points off turnovers could deliver the win. It was an unfortunate loss for the Nets as they lose ground on the Toronto Raptors who won on Friday. They also missed a chance to make up ground on the fourth-place Chicago Bulls.
Worry not, however, as Brooklyn gets the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. After that comes a crucial three-game stretch starting with the end of a back-to-back at home with Toronto, and then on the road at the Miami Heat and the fifth-place Washington Wizards.
The Celtics could technically still make the playoffs, as they are 6.5 games out of eighth place despite being 20 games under .500. However, they are still just 3-7 in the last 10. Next up the Celtics host the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.