Nets, Celtics square off on Christmas Day
There may not be too much Christmas spirit on display in the first of five NBA games on this holiday.
There were three ejections the last time the Brooklyn Nets faced the Boston Celtics, and they meet again Tuesday at the Barclays Center.
Boston (13-13) enters on a five-game road skid and has lost both matchups with Brooklyn (14-12) this season.
The Nets won 95-83 in Boston on Nov. 28 in a game that featured plenty of drama.
Brooklyn forward Kris Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett in the second quarter, and Rajon Rondo retaliated with a two-handed shove that sent Humphries into the courtside seats before the Nets' Gerald Wallace shoved Garnett.
Humphries and Wallace each received two technicals while Rondo was ejected as his streak of games with double-digit assists ended at 37. Rondo was later suspended two games by the NBA, although he said he was coming to the aid of Garnett.
"I don't know how much bad blood is still there," Nets guard Deron Williams said Monday. "We beat them twice this year. I know they're aware of that and they'll come in ready to play."
Garnett and Boston coach Doc Rivers blamed Humphries for the incident. The Nets, unsurprisingly, defended their forward.
"I really could care less of what the Celtics say about Kris," Brooklyn general manager Billy King said. "I just know what he does for us."
Humphries may not do much for the Nets on Tuesday since he did not play for the first time all season in Sunday's 95-92 victory over Philadelphia due to his ineffectiveness. Keith Bogans moved into the starting lineup.
"He's worked hard, I've gone to bat for him in a lot of different situations since day one," coach Avery Johnson said about Humphries. "I just think it's a tough situation for him so it wasn't like he was jumping up giving me a hug and he was really excited about it."
The Nets won for the third time in 11 games as Joe Johnson's 22 points led six Brooklyn players in double figures. Williams scored 16 points and Bogans justified Avery Johnson's move with a season-high 13 on 5-of-6 shooting.
"We definitely needed it," Williams said. "We just needed to get back in the winning track, especially in our building. It was good for us tonight."
Boston will start a four-game trip by trying to avoid its first six-game road slide within a single regular season since before Garnett joined the team in 2007. The Celtics have dropped four of five overall following Friday's 99-94 overtime loss to Milwaukee.
"Maybe this could be that road trip that gets us back going," top scorer Paul Pierce said. "That's when teams can go one direction or the other so we're going to learn a lot about ourselves on this road trip."
Pierce is averaging 37.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting in his last two games.
"I think right now, it's this point in the season where I'm in a good groove," he said. "I'm feeling good about my shot. I'm feeling good about my pace of the game. I'm just trying to do what I can to help this ball club win."
Garnett probably isn't feeling as good after he made six shots on a season-high 22 attempts for 12 points Friday.
"Right now the priority is Brooklyn so we're getting ready for Christmas," Garnett said.
The Celtics are 11-17 all-time on Dec. 25 while the Nets are 4-3.