Bench shakes off the dust as Celtics beat Nets 93-76

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A very nice Christmas gift almost turned into nightmare, yet the Celtics turned things around on Rajon Rondo's 19-5-5 performance and several key plays as they beat the Nets on the first game of the road trip. It wouldn't be fair to the rest of the team to highlight Rondo though. It was a great team performance as four players scored in double digits, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were not on that list.

The game was a pleasure to watch for most of the time. Q1 was a normal Celtics performance, yet there were two very positive signs despite being behind 24-22 by the end: Celtics started really aggressive, especially on the boards, and the 2nd unit truly looked like a unit. Their offense was smooth, a rare sighting this season. Highlight of the quarter: Rondo's confident 3 with 3 seconds to go, followed by a defensive effort that cost the Nets a couple of seconds, followed by Green's steal and almost made shot from quite a distance. Great show of will.

Things got a lot better in the second quarter. KG came in as an enforcer and the Celtics kept the Nets scoreless for a long time. Defense turned into offense; transitions, extra passes, open shots were all over the place and the 34 points scored marked the highest for the Celtics this season. What's more, the Celtics looked like they've found a way to play good D without KG on the floor (even a brief Bass-Sullinger pairing did a good job) Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger were huge. Jared cut continuously and grabbed boards and Green showed up both on the defensive and offensive end as he picked up from where he left against Bucks. Oh, and the highlight of the second quarter was the Truth diming up the rookie. What an awesome dish through Nets D.

This is how things looked in the middle of 3rd quarter when complacency hit us: The Celtics had out-rebounded the Nets 28-21, had 19 assists compared to 7 by them and forced the Nets to 14 TOs having committed only five with a 19 point lead. Deron Williams had attempted only four FGs when the Nets pushed for a comeback fueled by Lopez's offense and a failure to makes shots on our end. That's when the Celtics had to turn on the D, yet the Nets kept making tough shots and going to the line, cutting our lead down to 7 points. Then came a great sequence by Rondo: a dish to Sully, took a charge to prevent a fast break, then made a really difficult 3 pointer and the momentum shift stopped as the quarter ended 73-58.

Q4 started with a stupid move by Wallace, likely out of frustration. He held onto KG's shorts and engaged in a conversation with him that led to a very, very brief altercation but still resulted in two completely bullcrap double-technicals on KG, Lee, Wallace, Blatche. Argh. But yeah, Sully showed his mid-range shot, Terry continued hitting threes, and it looked like a sure win for the Cs when the score was 82-64 with 7 minutes left in the game. Well, that wouldn't be fair to fans, right? So the Nets attempted another comeback, this time led by Wallace's aggressive play. However, an offensive board by Rondo and a Green three that followed put an end to it, and the rest was a smooth ride.

Things to take away:

- KG - Sullinger frontcourt has always worked for us, and it's good to see Doc using that more often. Sully was great throughout the game. As long as he's not in foul trouble (I guess that's one reason JC plays), his contribution will be valuable.
- Terry's slump was just temporary. He's back.
- Green has been improving on both ends. When you compare his stats in November with those in December, the difference is quite significant.
- It's best when a team wins a game with all around performance. Pierce played 30 minutes, had 10 assists and 8 points. That feels much better than a 40 point game.
- It's still too early to get excited. The Nets are struggling mightily, and we made great use of mismatches. In any case, we have shown composure, we were aggressive and we set the tone of the game for the most part. Those are good signs.
- Again, the Celtics were a team out there today. That's invaluable.
- Oh, and this was the first game for Varnado, and he recorded a steal in just 1 minute of play. Welcome!