The Skinny: Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries exploited their height advantage over the Celtics in the early minutes, but Lopez committed two fouls in 3:30 to send him to the bench. Kevin Garnett took over from there, scoring six early points, but he also took a seat in the opening minutes. The Nets went on an 8-0 run to establish a three-point lead and led by eight after the first quarter.
The Nets’ bench, led by Andray Blatche and Jerry Stackhouse, came out with great energy in the second quarter. Brooklyn jumped out to a 21-point lead with a great offensive effort, but it was the defense that was most impressive in the first half, forcing Boston into 13 first half turnovers. The Celtics made a comeback, but the Nets still led by 13 at the break.
Just before halftime, a brawl ensued after a seemingly harmless foul by Humphries on Garnett. Garnett hit the deck after losing his balance, but Rajon Rondo immediately went after Humphries, thinking the foul had malicious intent. The players spilled into the stands, with Garnett and Gerald Wallace going at. After the dust settled, Humphries and Rondo were ejected outright, and Garnett received a technical foul. Wallace received a technical as well, but he was then ejected, since he recorded a technical earlier in the game.
After the fight, the referees were quick to blow the whistle to start the third quarter. The Nets hit a cold spell from the outside, but Boston couldn’t muster anything offensively in response. After three, Brooklyn still held a 15-point lead.
Joe Johnson had the hot hand in the fourth quarter, which helped the Nets preserve a double-digit lead. Stackhouse and Blatche kept up the intensity, as the Nets earned a statement road win.
High Scorers: Johnson led all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and added six assists. For the Celtics, Garnett and Brandon Bass each scored 16 points. Garnett added 10 rebounds for the double-double.
Key Stats: Brooklyn’s bench outscored Boston’s 52-18. In fact, Nets’ reserves outscored Nets’ starters, 52-43. Though the Nets shot just 33-of-82 (40 percent) overall, they made 10 of their 24 three-point attempts, while the Celtics managed just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Relying on a 17-8 advantage in offensive rebounds, the Nets outscored the Celtics 21-7 on second-chance points.
Who Was Hot: Stackhouse continues to light it up from downtown, hitting on 5-of-6 three-point attempts, and scored 17 points in just 22:26. Blatche recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, which was clutch since Lopez was in foul trouble all game.
Who Was Not: Before being ejected, Wallace was 2-of-10 from the field for five points. Paul Pierce had a rare rough shooting performance against the Nets, shooting 4-of-13 from the field and just 6-of-11 from the free-throw line for 14 points.
Fun Fact: With his ejection, Rondo’s streak of 37 games with 10 or more assists has come to an end.
Nobody, not even the five-time Atlantic Division defending champion Celtics, messes with the Brooklyn Nets.
This game had its share of fireworks, and it was another statement win for this Brooklyn bunch, especially since it was on the road. Just like the Nets are developing a rivalry with the Knicks, now the Nets and Celtics have their own rivalry brewing, with the Nets taking the first two matchups of this season.
For what it’s worth, Garnett has had his share of blowout victories against the Nets, but when he’s on the losing side, he can’t handle it.
The Nets’ defense has really found its groove, holding Boston to just 38 points in the first half. Brooklyn has held its opponents to the fewest points per game in the NBA at 90.7.
With the win, this is the latest the Nets have led the Atlantic Division since Jan. 30, 2007, when they were 22-23 and tied with the Toronto Raptors. The team has now won four straight games for the second time this season.
Brooklyn (10-4) heads back to the Amway Center in Orlando to take on the Magic Friday night. The 7 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.