The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
STARTERS GO LONG, FUEL FURIOUS THIRD QUARTER
Celtics starters have lobbied coach Doc Rivers to play extended minutes throughout the preseason, often disappointed with their efforts in the first half and seeking to immediately atone for sloppy play. With no other games standing between Wednesday's preseason finale against the Nets and Tuesday's much-ballyhooed showdown with the Miami Heat, the Celtics' veterans wanted to showcase their potential one last time.
Ray Allen fueled a feverish third-quarter outburst by scoring all 14 of his points in the period, connecting on four shots, including a pair of trifectas, as the Celtics embarked on a pair of 13-2 runs to erase a double-digit deficit and build a comfortable cushion that carried them to a lopsided win.
"We came out lackadaisical," said Shaquille O'Neal. "But we picked it up. When our guys turn it on, usually the outcome will be like this."
The Celtics stumbled their way through the first quarter, missing easy buckets and committing eight turnovers to allow the Nets to build a 13-point cushion less than a minute into the second. Boston trailed by seven at intermission, and the C's starters, who had planned to sit out the second half, were reinserted to wash the bad taste from their mouths.
"We knew that wasn't our brand of basketball, how we came out to start the game," said Paul Pierce. "We wanted to establish a tone there in the third quarter. We have to do a better job of starting games off and understanding what we need to do. For the most part, we're ready. We're satisfied with what we've done in the preseason."
Pierce finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting (though he didn't have a rebound), while O'Neal added 14 points and 9 boards, carrying the team for much of the first half with an array of powerful moves near the basket.
The Celtics needed that strong second half leading into the next five days.
“Well, we wanted to play better," said assistant coach Lawrence Frank, who guided the team from the bench as Doc Rivers watched from the locker room, still recuperating from throat surgery. "We were disappointed with the way we played in the first half. We wanted to get some positive results.
"This isn’t so much about winning in the preseason. It is about getting better and it’s about our habits. From one through five in that starting lineup, they knew that we could do better and we wanted to show that we could. Once we did show that we could do better, then it was time to get them out.”
TINY'S BIG PERSONALITY FITS IN LOCKER ROOM
Rookie Tiny Gallon, who joined the Celtics on Tuesday, seemed like a natural fit in a locker room of big personalities. Sitting in the middle of the room before the game with fellow camp invitees (and lockerless) Mario West and Stephane Lasme (both of whom were waived by night's end), Gallon playfully bantered with Nate Robinson, proudly declaring his Oklahoma Sooners the No. 1 college football team in the land when the topic shifted to pigskin.
Gallon didn't play Wednesday night against the Nets and might never don a Celtics jersey this season. Boston is likely auditioning Gallon for a spot with the Maine Red Claws if the team can sneak him through to their D-League affiliate under the new allocation rules. Without seeing him play in green, fans will have to settle for his description of himself as a player.
"I'm a versatile big, I really don't label myself at any position," said the 6-foot-9, 295-pound Gallon. "I just play basketball. People say I'm a power forward or something like that. I just play basketball. I take the open shot, I can take it off the dribble. I play inside and rebound the ball. I do everything."
Even play the point?
"A little bit," Gallon said to laughter.
Gallon averaged 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in his freshman season at Oklahoma. The Bucks took him with the 47th pick in June's draft, but waived him earlier this month. Gallon said he's been working out, hoping for another NBA opportunity, and gleefully boarded a flight to Boston when the call came earlier this week.
The Celtics assigned Gallon jersey No. 63. He joked that he looked like an offensive lineman and liked the observation that it was Shaquille O'Neal's number in reverse.
Gallon, who left Oklahoma after his freshman season, said he had spent time playing with Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo in the Houston area in recent years. He worked out with Glen Davis for a couple of weeks this summer and said Davis told him a lot about how the NBA is a "man's game." Just 19, Gallon called Celtics rookie guard Avery Bradley a "brother," having competed against each other regularly since the ninth grade, including while Bradley was a freshman at Texas last season.
LOOSE BALLS: FINAL GAME THE TOUGHEST; FINDING PRESEASON RHYTHM
* Frank on why the final postseason game is the toughest: "I think the last preseason game, typically, is the hardest preseason game in that you don’t want anyone to get injured. Yet at the same time, you want to keep on building because it’s your last dress rehearsal before the official season starts. I think it’s a little bit tough mentally from that standpoint, especially for a veteran team. At the same time, I think Doc from Day 1 has talked about our habits and about getting better on a daily basis, so we wanted to focus on that. Now we’ll take a little break tomorrow and get back in. Now we’re going to bring this thing to another gear. We’ve got to continue to work to improve.”
* Pierce on building confidence as a team: "You want to sort of build something going into the season individually and as a team. It's about getting the confidence going. You want to be playing well, not just as a team. I'm trying to figure out some things that I am trying to do offensively, just to get some confidence and to know that I can get the job done during the regular season.”
* Kevin Garnett got tagged with a technical foul in the second quarter for swinging his elbows in the direction of Kris Humphries after being fouled hard near the basket, but managed to avoid his second ejection of the preseason. Garnett didn't quite have his shot Wednesday, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting over 26 minutes. He also committed a team-high five turnovers. Regardless, it's been a solid camp for Garnett, who had come on strong since the New York game in which he received two second-quarter technical fouls and the heave-ho.
* Davis keyed the bench with 14 points, one of five Boston players in double figures ... Rondo chipped in 12 assists to go along with eight points over 30:45.