"They played great tonight. Played really hard, really together. They took us out of what we wanted to do," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Like I said, we weren't playing the New Jersey Nets that played without D-Will for those 10 games. That is their team and they're a good basketball team."
Pierce was expected to miss two to four weeks, but sat out only four games before returning to practice Monday. He received a nice ovation when he checked in with a protective glove covering his hand midway through the first quarter, no doubt aided by the many Boston fans that were noticeable all around Barclays Center.
He said he's still getting used to the glove, joking he might take it out to the movies, and might have to get used to a new role. Coach Jason Kidd said he would consider whether Pierce would remain with the second unit.
Garnett gave a pat on the head and a little hug before the opening tip to Boston's starters, who go on to face former coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers on Wednesday.
The Nets led 31-20 after one, their largest lead after the opening quarter this season, and 56-47 at the half.
Boston quickly tied it at 60, but the Nets responded with 10 straight points, going ahead 70-60 on Williams' jumper, and the lead reached 85-68 on Pierce's free throw with 1:14 left.
NOTES: It was the first time Garnett played against the Celtics since March 4, 2007, for Minnesota. ... Boxer Paulie Malignaggi was presented with the championship of Brooklyn belt by Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark in the second quarter after beating fellow Brooklyn product Zab Judah in a welterweight bout here Saturday.
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