BOSTON — Deron Williams had 29 points and 12 assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 101-93 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Brook Lopez scored 21 points and Joe Johnson added 20 for Brooklyn, which won for the 12 time in 18 games overall and beat the Celtics for the third time in four meetings this season.
The Nets moved closer to wrapping up fourth place in the Eastern Conference and clinching homecourt advantage in the first round. Brooklyn owns a 3 1/2-game edge over idle Chicago with four games left to play in the regular season.
Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 points, Jeff Green added 11 and Kevin Garnett had 11 points and eight rebounds in his second game back after missing the previous eight with an inflamed left ankle.
The Celtics, who have dropped four of six, remained three games ahead of Milwaukee for the East's seventh playoff spot, but fell 2 1/2 games behind sixth-place Atlanta, which beat Philadelphia 124-101. The Bucks lost at Orlando in overtime, 113-103.
Garnett got a technical in the second quarter and tangled up Kris Humphries for a jump ball that had the Celtics star rolling over the Nets' center midway into the fourth.
Earlier this season, Rajon Rondo and Humphries were ejected for scuffling under a basket and into the first row of seats after the Nets' big man knocked Garnett to the floor with a hard foul.
The Nets pushed a 10-point halftime lead to 60-45 on Jerry Stackhouse' jumper from the right baseline before Boston started to get some production offensively – mainly from Pierce. After missing six of their initial seven shots in the second half, the Celtics relied on Pierce driving to the basket where he converted a three-point play and was fouled, hitting five free throws that cut it to 70-62. He had 13 points in the quarter.
But Johnson followed with a 3 from the top, triggering a 7-2 spurt that helped the Nets to a 79-69 lead after three quarters.
The Celtics just had no answer for the penetrating, game-controlling Williams, who made key passes and continually found his way to the basket.
Boston sliced its deficit to nine three times in the opening 6 minutes of the final quarter, but after the last time Williams had a pair of baskets during a game-sealing 8-0 run that had many in the crowd heading for the exits.
Brooklyn hit six from beyond the 3-point line and shot 51.4 percent (19 of 27) in the opening half.
In the opening half, the Nets used a 15-4 run over a five-minute stretch late in the first quarter en route to a 22-21 edge after one. Johnson started the spree by nailing a fadaway and following Brandon Bass' basket with a 3 from the wing. Boston missed six straight shots during Brooklyn's run.
Then they went on a 18-4 spurt late in the second, turning a two-point deficit into a 12-point lead before Pierce's driving basket in the closing seconds cut it to 53-43 at halftime. Williams had 11 in the quarter, 5 coming in the run.
NOTES: The teams hadn't played since Boston beat the Nets by 17 in Brooklyn on Christmas Day. "It's different," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, who took over two days after that game when Avery Johnson was fired, said before the game. "They don't have Rondo and KG (Kevin Garnett) is just coming back." ... Boston coach Doc Rivers agreed that neither team was very similar to the last meeting. "We're different and they are too," he said. "I'm sure their confidence is much higher (than the last time). ... They're just playing with so much confidence. They're playing great." ... Garnett passed Hall of Famer John Stockton for sixth on the NBA's all-time list in minutes played. ... Pierce and Terry both played their 1,100th career game and Brooklyn's Johnson played his 900th. ... It was the first of three straight on the road for the Nets. They play Indiana on Friday and Toronto Sunday before returning home for their final two games of the regular season. ... The Celtics are off until a matchup in Miami against the Heat on Friday. They play at Orlando on Saturday on Saturday night.