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Rajon Rondo leads Celtics over Nets 93-76
NEW YORK — Rajon Rondo lost his cool, and any chance at history, in the second quarter when Boston last met Brooklyn.
This time, the second period featured some of the best basketball the Celtics have played this season.
Rondo, sidelined in the first meeting and thrown out of the second after shoving Nets forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats, outplayed counterpart Deron Williams and helped the Celtics take control early.
“We moved the ball; we rebounded the ball,” Rondo said. “They beat us pretty bad on the glass, so tonight we did an exceptional job on the glass, taking care of the defensive rebounds, and we got stops.”
A month after the teams scuffled in Boston, there was another skirmish in the fourth quarter that resulted in four technical fouls. But that was the most fight the Nets put up in a disappointing performance on the national stage of the Christmas opener. They were never in the game after the first 20 minutes, and their fans headed to the exits with under 2 minutes left as a “Let’s go Celtics!” chant broke out.
“It was a big game for us. It was a division rival. We were ready for a big game. It just didn’t happen,” Williams said.
Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points and Jeff Green had 15 for the Celtics (14-13), who avoided falling under .500 with just their second victory in six games.
The Celtics took control with a 23-5 run in the second quarter of the opener of their four-game road trip. They had 11 assists on 13 baskets and outscored the Nets 34-18 in the period after dropping the previous two meetings.
“It was good to get off to this start. It was good to finally play from start to finish, especially with the way we’ve been playing against Brooklyn,” said Paul Pierce, who had just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting. “So it was a well-balanced game, but I’m happy with the start of the trip.”
Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez each scored 15 for the Nets, who have lost four of five. Struggling to find anything that worked, they played Lopez and fellow center Andray Blatche together with three guards at one point, but Brooklyn shot just 41 percent and committed 20 turnovers that led to 25 points.
Williams had only 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting and Joe Johnson, his partner in a high-priced backcourt, shot 4 of 14 for his 12 points.
“This one hurts. We didn’t play our game. They beat us from the opening tip,” Wallace said. “We didn’t make shots. We turned the ball over too easy. Our defense just wasn’t there tonight. We were not ourselves tonight.”
Boston’s Kevin Garnett had eight points and 10 rebounds on the day he tied Charles Oakley for 15th place on the NBA’s career list with his 1,282nd game. He was also front and center when things got testy.
Wallace was fouled with 9:31 remaining and appeared to hold onto Garnett’s uniform to balance himself and not fall. Garnett was fine with that but then objected to how long Wallace hung on to his shorts, and they said something to each other as they tried to push themselves free. That led to technical fouls on the two, along with Blatche and Courtney Lee.
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