Celtics play hard, knock off Nets in Brooklyn 89-81

As to be expected after the embarrassing home defeat on Monday and the two days of hard practice that followed, Boston showed outstanding effort and hustle on both ends of the floor tonight.  The result was the Celtics' best defensive outing of the year, as they held the Nets to a season-low point total for an opponent in their 89-81 victory.

Avery Bradley led the way with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, while Tyler Zeller chipped in 18 points and six rebounds.  The Celts shot just 39.8 percent from the floor, but made up for it by forcing 17 turnovers and committing only six of their own.

It looked like it might be another long night for Boston when 90 seconds into the game Bradley threw an alley-oop pass that sailed about 37 feet over Jeff Green's head.  The C's trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, and never led until a driving layup by Evan Turner gave them a 40-39 edge heading into the intermission.  This was the first time in 26 tries that the Celtics emerged with a victory after falling behind by 11 or more.

Boston came out of halftime with great energy, building a 69-62 advantage through three quarters.  A 7-2 start to the fourth period had the lead up to 12 with eight minutes remaining.

Brad Stevens trimmed his rotation down to 10 guys (Gerald Wallace, Brandan Wright and Phil Pressey logged DNP CDs), with nine different players contributing at least five points.

Kevin Garnett scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Brooklyn, but he was mostly a non-factor in the second half.

Incredibly the 12-21 Celtics are now just two games back of the East's eighth and final playoff spot, and only thee games behind the No. 7 Nets (16-19).  Boston travels to Indiana on Friday to take on the 14-22 Pacers with the conference's No. 9 position up for grabs.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan