Rapid Reaction: Nets 97, Celtics 96

Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire

Jeff Green drives hard to the basket during Tuesday's exhibition game against Brooklyn.BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 97-96 during exhibition play Tuesday night at TD Garden:


Celtics captain Paul Pierce put together his finest outing of the postseason, erupting for 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while adding five rebounds and a pair of blocks over 26:46. Courtney Lee, running with the starters, chipped in 13 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. The Nets didn't play any of their top six players -- starters Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez were held out, while MarShon Brooks is battling right foot tendinitis. Andray Blatche seized the opportunity as the Wizards amnesty castoff finished with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds over 24:57.


Celtics coach Doc Rivers elected to watch the debate second half from the locker room and his assistants did something right as Boston stretched a two-point halftime lead to nine in the third quarter. Most of Boston's points came from behind the arc, where Pierce (6-of-8 on treys for the night) keyed the triple outburst (the Celtics were 6-of-7 from downtown in the frame). That should have been enough, but Boston's third-teamers -- Kris Joseph, Micah Downs, Fab Melo, Rob Kurz and Jason Collins -- coughed up a 10-point lead over the final two minutes and Mirza Teletovic made a late freebie to lift Brooklyn.


The Celtics started Lee and Jared Sullinger alongside their Big Three. Sullinger got a taste of a physical game matching up early with Reggie Evans ... Darko Milicic (mild right wrist sprain) did not play and received a cortisone shot after the game. He is not expected to play Thursday in Brooklyn, but Rivers hoped to have him back on the floor against the Knicks on Saturday in Albany, N.Y. ... Jeff Green hit the floor hard midway through the second quarter, but was no worse for the wear. Green didn't have a great night shooting the ball (some layups wouldn't fall), but got to the line consistently (7-of-8 overall).


The Celtics (1-4) won't fret another exhibition loss, even if it was against the Nets' junior varsity squad. And given the dud that Boston delivered in Philadelphia on Monday, this was a preseason step in the right direction. Rivers' assistants (Armond Hill, Kevin Eastman and Mike Longabardi ran the bench) got some valuable experience, the core players got some solid run and most of the crowd headed to the exits before the youngsters gave up the lead.