NEW YORK — For the Brooklyn Nets, the Barclays Center not only is home, but it has developed into a fortress where losing is something of a distant memory.
The Nets continued their dominant play at home with a 114-98 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
It was the 11th consecutive home win for the Nets in a streak that dates to Feb. 3. Overall, Brooklyn has
the best record (26-10) in the Eastern Conference since New Year’s Day.
“We trust each other from top to bottom,” Nets head coach Jason Kidd said. “Things didn’t start off the way we wanted, but it’s a marathon. It’s not about who starts the race in first, but it’s who finishes first.”
The Celtics have now lost six of their last seven despite a 26-point effort from guard Avery Bradley to lead all scorers.
“We didn’t provide much resistance all night,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “We weren’t very good on the defensive end of the floor.”
Nets guard Joe Johnson, who has now shot 50 percent or better from the field in five of his last nine games, had another efficient outing, scoring 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field while adding four assists.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can,” Johnson said. “It’s a great feeling to be playing this well this late in the season. This is what you would want.”
It was another night of reunions for Nets guard Paul Pierce, who faced the Celtics for the fourth time this season. Pierce spent 15 years in Boston from 1998 to 2012. In the first three games against his former club, Pierce averaged 6.7 points. On Friday night, he scored 14.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders right now,” Pierce said. “We’re reaching our peak at the right time of the season…Everyone is growing with confidence.”
Guard Deron Williams had six points, six assists and one steal, and he quarterbacked a Nets offense that shot just under 60 percent from the field against the Celtics.
Williams extended his NBA-best active steals streak to 17 consecutive games with at least one steal. It is the fourth longest in the league this season.
“Guys are really getting into it defensively,” Johnson said. “We’re helping each other out and that’s beautiful to watch and great to be a part of.”
Behind Johnson’s 16 points in the third quarter, the Nets continued their 2014 trend of building insurmountable double-digit leads in the late stages of the game. The Nets received contributions throughout the team as 12 different players scored in the win.
“Everybody’s touching the ball,” Kidd said. “That’s one of the nice things to watch when that happens…Guys are sharing the ball and trusting one another.”
Both offenses were clicking early. The Nets were shooting close to 70 percent by exploiting the
paint to start the game while the Celtics used second-chance opportunities and domination of the offensive glass.
Nets rookie forward Mason Plumlee scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half while adding five rebounds.
“He’s grown each time he has touched the floor,” Kidd said. “The more minutes he gets, the better he gets. So being a rookie, he’s going to make some mistakes, but the way he can finish around the rim with guys that can pass him the ball is fun to watch. He’s a big part of our success.”
After twisting an ankle just minutes into the game, Bradley had an offensive burst, scoring 23 points in the first half, including an 18-point spurt in six minutes during the second quarter.
Yet Boston’s defense allowed the Nets to finish the half on a 15-6 run, helping Brooklyn take a 10-point lead going into halftime.
“When Avery Bradley started going off, we just accepted trading baskets instead of really getting stops,” Stevens said. “Brooklyn’s done a good job of adjusting.”
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo had a double-double with 12 points and 12 assists.
NOTES: The Celtics snapped a five-game losing streak on Wednesday night with a 101-96 win over the Miami Heat. … The Nets have won 10 of their last 12 games. … Nets F Kevin Garnett continues to miss time with back spasms. Nets head coach Jason Kidd said that Garnett will be re-evaluated on Saturday, but there is
no timetable for his return. … The Celtics brought a struggling offense into Brooklyn, averaging 95.5 points per game, 27th in the NBA. … Nets GM Billy King
said C Brook Lopez had a procedure on March 3 to clean out his left ankle after he tore a tendon earlier this year. He is expected to return to basketball activities in June.
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