When the Brooklyn Nets have folks over in their fine new arena, they normally are not the most hospitable of hosts. In fact, they can be downright nasty.
But since it’s Christmas day, they decided the best gift they could give the visiting Boston Celtics was to turn the ball over to them…
…and it turns out that it was the gift that kept on giving.
The Nets turned the ball over 20 times in a game that became testy and heated between the division rivals, the referees freely handing out technical fouls to both teams as the Celtics surged past the ghost of games past, paid proper homage to the ghost of games present and made the ghost of games future look not so imposing as they out rebounded, out hustled and outscored Brooklyn in a much needed 93-76 victory.
Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce starred in their own remake of the holiday classic film Trading Places, Rondo scoring 19 points and hauling down 6 rebounds while Pierce paced the Celtics with 10 assists, but scoring just 8 points as the Celtics pulled even in the Atlantic division with the Nets at 14-13.
Both trail the New York Knicks by a full six games.
Reserve forwards Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green scored in double digits off the bench for Boston with 16 and 15 respectively, Sullinger chipping in with 7 boards. Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 10 rebounds and scored 8 points.
Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez led the Nets in scoring with 15 a piece, Lopez with a team high 8 boards. Deron Williams pitched in with 10 points as the Nets lost for the 4 time in five games. The Celtics won for just the second time in their past six.
The game was essentially over at halftime, as Boston used a 23-5 run in the second quarter to build a 14 point lead at the break, as Brooklyn never impressed with much energy but showed that they were willing to share the ball with the Celtics.
And what Christmas day would be complete without some whining and bickering, not to mention pushing and shoving?
Four players received technical fouls for their roles in what amounted to a schoolyard shoving match in the 4th quarter as Kevin Garnett and Gerald Wallace locked horns briefly. Unlike what transpired a month ago in Boston, the scuffle never had a chance to escalate to blows and no one was ejected.
In the Nets victory on November 28th, Rondo and Nets’ players Kris Humphries and Wallace were ejected for their roles in a skirmish just before halftime.
The Celtics now travel to Los Angeles to begin a 3-games-in-4-nights swing through California, beginning Thursday night against the Clippers, while the Nets visit Milwaukee tomorrow night to take on the Bucks.