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Nets players downplay beef with Celtics

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The last time the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics played, a fight broke out in the second quarter, which resulted in Rajon Rondo, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace being ejected. Rondo received a two-game suspension. Wallace was fined $35,000 and Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000.

The Nets won that game, 95-83, to improve to 10-4 overall, 2-0 against the Celtics.

The two teams will meet again on Christmas Day at Barclays Center. A lot has changed since.

"We're a different team right now," said Nets coach Avery Johnson, whose team is 3-8 in December after going 11-4 in November. "During that time, we were playing like we had a lot to prove. We were on the road. We felt like we were an underdog.

"Somewhere along the way, I guess we started to feel a little differently about ourselves, and obviously Brook [Lopez] got injured [they went 2-5 in his absence]. But right now, it's not like we've been on a crazy roll or some winning streak. We need tomorrow's game just as much as they do."

Nets point guard Deron Williams thinks it will be an "intense game" but doesn't know if there's going to be any animosity due to what happened on Nov. 28.

"I don't know how much bad blood is still there," D-Will said. "We beat them twice this year. I'm sure they know that. They're aware of that. And they'll come in here ready to play."

After the so-called "Boston Brawl," Celtics guard Jason Terry called Humphries "soft."

Remember: It was Humphries who fouled KG hard, which prompted Rondo to begin shoving Humphries near the basket. In an effort to defend himself, the Nets power forward grabbed Rondo's jersey and pulled it over the point gurad's head. Meanwhile, Wallace and KG got tangled up nearby.

For his part, Humphries didn't exchange verbal blows with Terry, saying it only matters what his teammates think of him. Humphries is currently dealing with abdominal pain and is out of Brooklyn's rotation, so he doesn't figure to play in this one.

"I don't even remember what was said," Wallace said. "We're trying to get back on a track as a team. They're just another team that happens to come up on the schedule."

"It's part of the game," added Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson. "You react and you may regret it in the heat of the moment, but things happen. Hopefully it's nothing personal so we can just go out and play hard, have fun and give the fans a show."