Boston at New Jersey

Venue: Prudential Center
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Even without their star point guard, the Boston Celtics continued their dominance over the New Jersey Nets last month.

The Nets hope the return of All-Star point guard Devin Harris will produce a different result this time.

Rajon Rondo and the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics look to extend their season-best winning streak to seven on Sunday at Prudential Center, where Harris is expected to be in the lineup as the Nets try to snap an eight-game home skid to Boston.

With Rondo out with a strained left hamstring, the Celtics (15-4) trailed by as many as 10 in the third quarter, but Shaquille O'Neal scored a season-high 25 points to help carry the defending Eastern Conference champs to a 89-83 victory over the visiting Nets on Nov. 24.

The Celtics have won 13 of 14 overall in this matchup.

In four contests since missing three with the injury, Rondo has averaged 12.3 points and 13.8 assists. He leads the league with 14.1 assists per game.

The Celtics, whose last 7-0 stretch was an 11-game run from Nov. 22-Dec. 14, 2009, will look to inch closer to that mark with their ninth consecutive victory in New Jersey. In their last visit, the Celtics built a 36-point halftime lead and cruised to a 111-87 victory on Jan. 13.

Paul Pierce scored 24 points in 28 minutes and Rondo added 11 and 14 assists as the Celtics prevailed without Kevin Garnett, who was sidelined with a right knee injury.

Garnett now will try to follow one of his best games of the season - 20 points and a season-high 17 rebounds in Friday's 104-92 victory over Chicago.

Garnett is averaging 16.5 points and 10.3 boards during the winning streak.

"He's playing at a high level... especially when the young disrespectful cats come out, he steps his game up," O'Neal, referring to comments Bulls center Joakim Noah made last month about Garnett, told the Celtics' official website.

At 34, Garnett remains a cornerstone of coach Doc Rivers' defensive-minded club, which is allowing only 89.0 points per game on 42.0 percent shooting over the last six games.

That kind of pressure could be problematic for a Nets offense averaging 94.2 points.

Two days after falling in triple-overtime to Oklahoma City, New Jersey (6-14) lost 91-84 in overtime at Charlotte on Friday when it shot a season-worst 31.9 percent, including 5 of 25 from 3-point range.

"In overtime, it's the same old stuff," coach Avery Johnson said. "We can't run our offense properly and then it affects our defense."

First-year Net Jordan Farmar has stepped up the last two games with Harris sidelined with a sprained knee - averaging 22.0 points and 9.5 assists - but New Jersey has gone 5-28 without Harris since the beginning of 2008-09.

While Harris will likely be matched up with Rondo, Nets center Brook Lopez faces a tough test with O'Neal and Glen Davis coming off the Celtics' bench. The duo is scoring 26.3 points per game with 13.7 rebounds during Boston's winning streak.

Lopez, who had 16 points and five rebounds in last month's loss in Boston, averaged 20.5 with 8.5 in the Celtics' two visits in 2009-10.

The Nets' last six home games have been decided by six points or fewer. Boston, meanwhile, has won two in a row on the road by an average of 21.0.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Boston4th Atlantic 2557.305232-8Lost 2
New Jersey5th Atlantic 2244.33316.53-7Lost 6
Injuries
Boston
PlayerInjury
G WallaceKnee
New Jersey
PlayerInjury
No injuries reported.
 
Key Players
Paul<br>Pierce
Paul
Pierce
, SF
35.4 Min. Per Game 36.4 Brook<br>Lopez
Brook
Lopez
, C
19.6 Pts. Per Game 19.4
2.7 Ast. Per Game 1.1
4.8 Reb. Per Game 6.2
52.3 Field Goal % 43.8
43.3 Three Point % 0
84.8 Free Throw % 82.9
 
Team Rankings
TeamRankPoints
Boston Celtics190.39
New Jersey Nets1969.12
 
Series Game Log
DateLocationResults
 
Other Games
NY 116 Final
Tor 99
Cle 92 Final
Det 102
NO 84 Final
SA 109
GS 109 Final
OKC 114
Mem 107 Final
Den 108
Wash 108 Final
Pho 125
LAC 91 Final
Port 100