It was an emotional game for both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as they returned to Boston for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. The duo didn’t have huge games, as they combined to score just 12 points, but they each played a role as their new team beat their old one 85-79 on Sunday night.
“I’m trying not to hyperventilate, that’s all,” Pierce said. “It’s tough. There is so much emotionally going on, I’m trying to regain my focus because I know that we have got to win.”
Pierce had six points, four rebounds and two assists, KG had six points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals including a big steal and layup to put the Nets up by five with 17.3 seconds to play. The Celtics played tribute videos to each player during the game and the fans seemed to be rooting for them more than the Celtics throughout most of the game.
“This was the toughest game I ever had to play,” Garnett said. “It was tougher than any championship game or any game seven. This game was just really hard to focus and concentrate on what was at hand.”
While KG and Pierce got all of the recognition in this game it was Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson that mattered most. Going into the second quarter down 17-11, Blatche scored seven points as the Nets came back and eventually took a one-point lead into halftime. Then it was Anderson with nine points in the third as the Nets increased that lead to six points.
In the fourth, the two teams went back-and-forth as Deron Williams, still coming off the bench, and Andrei Kirilenko lead the way. D-Will had three points and three assists while Kirilenko had seven with two rebounds.
The Nets got it done though even as they only shot 39.3 percent because they held the Celtics to just 37.8 percent, forced 16 turnovers, and won the battle in the paint 40-26. Blatche led with 17 points, Kirilenko and Anderson each had 11, and D-Will had seven and seven.
The Nets are now 10-1 during 2014 which is an amazing turnaround considering how absolutely terrible they looked after Christmas. The key was going with the smaller lineup which including moving Pierce to the four and KG to the five. That rejuvenated the pair that previously looked done earlier in the season.
The Nets play again at the Barclays Center on Monday night as they host the Toronto Raptors.