BOSTON - The Brooklyn Nets, coming off an emotional win over the New York Knicks Monday night, had every reason to have a bit of a letdown on the road Wednesday night.
It didn't happen.
The Nets, winning their fourth straight and ninth in their last 11 games, took control of the game in the first quarter and never let go, cruising to a 95-83 win over the Celtics in a game marred by a second-period battle put three players out of the game.
Brooklyn's Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, the Nets' starting forwards, and Boston's Rajon Rondo all wound up out of the game for the tussle, started by Rondo, late in the second quarter. Both Humphries and Wallace were gone for their second technicals and Rondo for starting the fight.
The early shower ended Rondo's streak of 37 straight games with double-digit assists. The streak tied with John Stockton for the second-longest in NBA history. So, Magic Johnson's record of 46 in a row now safe.
Former Celtic Joe Johnson scored 18 points and had six assists, Jerry Stackhouse came off the bench with 17 points and reserve Andray Blatche had 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Nets ended a four-game TD Garden losing streak. All of those losses were rung up by the NEW JERSEY Nets. Reggie Evans, also coming off the bench, had 10 rebounds in the win, Brooklyn's second over the Celtics this month.
The Nets (10-4) grabbed 17 offensive rebounds in the game.
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics (8-7 after a two-game winning streak ended) with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Bass scored 16 points and Paul Pierce 14. But Pierce scored seven of his points late and was 4-for-13 from the floor. He was also 6-for-11 from the foul line, missing five of his first six after coming into the game having made 27 in a row at the line.
The skirmish broke out when Humphries was guilty of a hard foul on Garnett with 26.2 seconds left in the first half. Humphries was getting a technical for the foul and was then jumped by a combination of Rondo and Jason Terry, the players spilling into the crowd. Rondo's shirt came off and Garnett threw a punch at Wallace.
Humphries got two T's and was gone, and Wallace, who had picked one up with 1:02 left, got a second and was gone. Garnett got a technical and Rondo was tossed, thus ending his assist streak.
The Nets grabbed an eight-point lead after one quarter and would have led by more had they not missed a few layups and gone 2-for-6 from the foul line.
But the visitors went 4-for-6 from 3-point range and finished the quarter on a 6-0 run to build the lead to eight.
Stackhouse, who was 4-for-6 from 3-point range in helping to beat the Knicks Monday night in Brooklyn, nailed a trey with 2:28 left in the first quarter and hit another to give his team an 11-point lead 23 seconds into the second. He hit another to make it an 18-point game midway through the second quarter, as the work of Blatche (10 rebounds, five offensive, in 111/2 minutes) and Evans on the boards helped the Nets dominate.
The Nets built the lead to 21 with 3:49 left in the quarter, and the Celtics doing a Keystone Kops impression. Brooklyn was not shooting the lights out, either, but the Nets were clearly the aggressors on most plays. But the Celtics got the deficit down to 13 at halftime.
NOTES: Celtics coach Doc Rivers got his first technical foul of the season with 7:25 left in the first quarter, but Deron Williams failed to convert the free throw. ... The Celtics had a moment of silence before the game for Kevin McHale's daughter, Sasha, who recently passed away. ... The Nets opened a three-game road trip that continues in Orlando Friday night and ends at Miami Saturday night. The Celtics host Portland Friday night. ... While Rondo didn't play in the first meeting between the teams, neither did Brooklyn's Wallace, who was also out injured. ... In the crowd: Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and the Celtics Development League Maine team.