First impressions: Celtics 96, Nets 92

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Semih Erden works against Derrick Favors Thursday in New Jersey.NEWARK, N.J. -- First impressions after the Boston Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets, 96-92, Thursday night in an exhibition game at the Prudential Center:


Moments after missing a chance to produced the go-ahead basket on a drive to the rim, Marquis Daniels canned a 3-pointer from the wing with 35.4 seconds remaining to break a late tie. The Celtics leaned hard on their so-called bench mob of Daniels, Delonte West, Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, and Semih Erden, and the unit responded by combining for 60 points as Davis produced a team-high 20 points, while Robinson kicked in 17 and West chipped in 12. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo topped the starters with 18 minutes played.


Boston's bench scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, erasing the nine-point deficit Boston spotted the Nets at the start of the game. Davis (14 first-half points), West (12 first-half points), and Robinson (9 first-half points) helped the Celtics shoot nearly 70 percent for the second frame as the Green produced a 37-point outburst and led 56-54 at the intermission. The starters quickly stretched out the lead at the start the second half and Boston hung on late while riding a mix of second- and third-teamers.


For the second straight night, it was an all-around effort on the glass, but once again a guards topped the stat sheet for rebounding as both Paul Pierce and Delonte West hauled in six boards apiece. Boston finished with a 46-39 advantage on the glass overall.


Hard to be unsung after hitting the go-ahead trifecta, but Daniels quietly chipped in nine points and four rebounds overall, while looking particularly strong slashing to the hoop (even if all those shots didn't fall). That's the Daniels that Boston needs this season, particularly with Robinson and West able to stretch the floor and draw extra defenders if they attack the basket.


Playing the second night of a back-to-back in a sparsely filled gym, the Celtics looked far less crisp than they did in their destruction of the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night in Manchester, N.H. But in limiting the starters minutes, Celtics coach Doc Rivers forced his bench to win this game and they did just that, rallying Boston out of an early hole and playing solid ball (even if they let New Jersey creep back in late). The Celtics are scheduled to have a day off Friday before getting back to the gym Saturday and the team plays its first preseason game at the TD Garden on Sunday against Toronto.