Before tonight, the Nets had never won in Boston against a full-strength Celtics team in the Garnett era (they won one with Pierce out). After tonight, that's no longer true. The Nets rode Joe Johnson, Andray Blatche, and Jerry Inventor Of Palindromes Stackhouse, and cruised to a big win on the road against a division rival.
Oh, also: BRAWL!
And here are the grades:
One of the things I've said repeatedly about Williams since the trade is that all his on-the-floor moves are there -- the quick dribbles, the passes, the ability to break down a defender on the ground. But he's also not hitting shots with the consistency you'd expect from a superstar point guard. On the ground, I'll take a game like this from Williams any day. But you hope that whatever it is -- the aches and pains, the wrist, whatever -- fixes itself soon.
A mostly-on, sometimes-off game for Johnson, struggled for stretches to get involved but did hit some shots to keep the lead maintained in the third and fourth quarter. Did hit three threes, and make Paul Pierce look a little silly on an odd low-dribble crossover play midway through the fourth. So those were nice.
Ejected after two quick technicals in the first half, the second happening during the fight. Wasn't involved directly in the fight, though. Did play well in his time on the floor, bringing the standard Crash energy. Still struggling a bit with his shot. I do wonder if he should just stop shooting above-break threes altogether.
Got tossed after Rajon Rondo threw himself at Hump and Hump kind of brought him into the stands. The consensus was that Humphries didn't do anything wrong, but I'm not sure I buy that. Rondo was definitely the initiator -- that's not up for debate -- but it did look like Humphries tangled himself with Rondo and pulled him back, at least momentarily. Hard to really judge his on-court time -- he did get somewhat abused by Kevin Garnett when switched onto him offensively.
Struggled with foul trouble the entire game. Still picked up ten rebounds, so that's encouraging.
You know how PA Announcer David Diamante calls Blatche the "Zero Hero"? No one goes from Zero to Hero quite so rapidly as Blatche: from game to game, quarter to quarter, play to play. Tonight was more Hero than Zero from Blatche; he picked up ten boards in the first half, finished with a double-double, and seemed zeroed in, if sometimes only on the basket. With Lopez in foul trouble, Johnson went to Blatche down the stretch and kept him there, and Blatche delivered.
First of all -- amazing that Reggie Evans, of all people, didn't get ejected in a fight between two division rivals. Evans was fine tonight -- I thought he played solid defense, but sometimes just got scored over by taller, longer players. His "go get it" mentality was on display, but he lost a couple of rebounds just by rim-chasing -- the ball bounced away as he was under the basket expecting an airball, or bounced off his hands as he mistimed the ball bouncing off. Solid Reggie game, though, punctuated by a dribble between the legs (!!!), a beautiful late dish to Andray Blatche for a layup, and a great hustle play with under five minutes left, throwing a careening-out-of-bounds ball off Jared Sullinger to maintain Nets possession.
HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING!? HOW ARE YOU STILL THIS GOOD!? Jerry Stackhouse, this is just getting weird now. But the unbelievably amazing kind of weird. Stack doesn't do anything unnecessary, doesn't try to force anything his body can't handle. He just, for the most part, hangs out in the corner, waits for the defense to forget about him, waits for the pass, and drills corner threes. He's Shane Battier if Shane Battier was carved out of molten insanity. Jerry Stackhouse has now hit 9 of his last 11 threes. Jerry freaking Stackhouse, ladies and gentlemen.
The early favorite for Bench Mob favorite has faltered a bit in recent games, not hitting many shots (though he's been forced into some tough ones) and not wreaking the transition havoc he did in early games. Gets a grade bump for getting to the line so often.