Rapid Reaction: Nets 85, Celtics 79

BOSTON -- The Celtics honored Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the perfect way Sunday night, with moving tribute videos and deafening ovations from the sellout crowd.

It was truly an emotional return to Boston for the duo, whose numbers will someday hang in the rafters above the TD Garden parquet.

As for the game? Well, it was really bad, sucking most of the life and energy out of the building. Yet the Nets won 85-79, so they’ll gladly take it.

What it means: KG and Truth’s return to Beantown was a success. More importantly, the Nets (20-22) have won five in a row and are 10-1 in 2014. They continue to win when starting Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Pierce and Garnett (8-0).

Brooklyn nearly blew a 12-point lead but was able to hang on.

Pierce (six points on 2-for-10 shooting in 29 minutes) and Garnett (six points, three rebounds in 23 minutes) didn’t have much an impact for most of the game. Pierce’s first points don’t come until the 10:52 mark of the third on a pair of free throws. But he capped off a 10-0 run with a jumper that gave the Nets a 45-36 lead. Then, Pierce hit a shot with 2:38 left to put Brooklyn up 78-70. Garnett had back-to-back buckets late in the second quarter to get on the board. And he finished his former team after Deron Williams played terrific on-the-ball defense on Rajon Rondo, and KG came away with the steal at half court and fast-break layup to basically clinch the game with 17.6 seconds remaining.

Brooklyn outshot Boston, 39.3 percent percent to 37.8 percent. Andray Blatche led the way for the Nets with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting. Johnson (six points) and Williams (seven points, seven rebounds, seven assists), who came off the bench for a fourth straight game, did pretty much nothing for the most part -- until the end.

U-G-L-Y: The Nets scored 11 points in the first quarter. They went 1-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half. Yet they led the Celtics 35-34 after the initial 24 minutes. Pierce and Johnson were each held without a point. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 69 combined points was the fewest first-half points scored in any game this season.

Boo these men: Pierce and Garnett received applause when they were introduced. But old playoff nemesis Jason Kidd -- as well of the rest of the team’s starters -- were showered with boos.

Up next: The Nets take on the Toronto Raptors -- minus DeMar DeRozan -- Monday night at the Barclays Center in the second half of a back-to-back.