BOSTON -- Strangers to success, the new Boston Celtics see their perfect record as something to improve on.
Their 91-69 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night gave them their best start in 35 years, but coach Doc Rivers gave another number to their 7-0 record.
"Means zero, really," he said.
Early in the season, the Celtics are focusing on their flaws and not the up-tempo game and shutdown defense that allowed them to overcome three mediocre quarters and Kevin Garnett's foul trouble to remain the only unbeaten team in the NBA.
"We don't want to disrespect the history of this great franchise," Garnett said. "I think we're a lot more in tune to what we're not doing well versus the things we are doing well."
Boston has an NBA-high 16 championships but was 24-58 last season, its second-worst record ever. So it added stars Garnett and Ray Allen. Garnett's Minnesota team missed the last three playoffs and Allen's Seattle club missed the last two.
"Last year we lost in a lot of different ways," Allen said. "We're on the flip side of that equation."
The Celtics' three stars all had decent games, hardly their best of the season. Garnett had 16 points and eight rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 15 and Allen had 14.
"They are not about stats," New Jersey's Jason Kidd said. "They are just about wins and you can see that out there."
Richard Jefferson scored 21 points and Kidd had 19 for the Nets, who dropped their third straight game.
The Celtics are off to their best start since they were 10-0 in 1972-73, with their sixth win by at least 11 points. The franchise record is 14-0 in 1957-58.
Boston pulled away while Garnett was watching from the bench after he picked up his third foul with 4:38 left in the third quarter and Boston leading 54-46. By the time he came back with 7:17 left in the game, the lead had grown to 74-58.
In the 9:21 Garnett was gone, the Celtics had doubled their lead from eight to 16 points.
"You've just got to stay ready" to support the three stars, Perkins said. "They're not going to hit all their shots. They're not going to play a perfect game."
Boston was leading 58-54 but scored the last four points of the third quarter on two free throws by Ray Allen and a layup by Tony Allen.
Tony Allen scored the first three points of the fourth quarter on free throws for a 65-54 lead. Then the Celtics really took control.
The speedy Rondo stole the ball under the Nets basket and dribbled quickly up court. James Posey, playing because Garnett wasn't, took a pass while all alone behind the 3-point line on the left side and sank the shot. That brought Boston's subs and the crowd to their feet as the Nets called a timeout.
They needed another break after a similar play when the Celtics stole the ball in the Nets end again. Ray Allen passed from midcourt to Rondo, who fed it right back to the sharpshooting guard for another 3-point basket. That made it 73-58 with eight minutes left and the Nets immediately called another timeout.
"Boston's a top defensive team," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said after being outscored 74-46 in the last three quarters. "We just had a hard time making shots and sometimes that breaks your will."
Both teams shot poorly and handled the ball sloppily in the first half.
The Nets made only 36 percent of their shots, while the Celtics hit 44. New Jersey took a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter and held it until Pierce made a 17-foot turnaround jumper with 0.1 seconds left in the half, giving Boston a 36-34 lead.
The Nets played their second full game without Vince Carter, who sprained his ankle in Saturday night's 112-101 loss at home to Boston.
"With Vince we were just as bad," Kidd said.
The Celtics were missing backup guard Eddie House, who sprained his left ankle in Tuesday night's 101-86 win at Indiana.
|Kevin Garnett is held to 16, but the Celtics manage to achieve their best start (7-0) in 35 years. (AP)|
|New Jersey (4-4)||23||11||20||15||69|
|Boston (7-0) «||17||19||26||29||91|
|NJ:R. Jefferson 21 Pts
NJ:J. Kidd 9 Reb
NJ:J. Kidd 7 Ast
|BOS:K. Garnett 16 Pts
BOS:K. Garnett 8 Reb
BOS:R. Allen 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|A. Wright, SF||40||1-3||1-2||3||1||4||4|
|R. Jefferson, SF||39||7-19||7-10||6||3||4||21|
|J. Kidd, PG||37||7-18||3-4||9||7||4||19|
|N. Krstic, C||13||1-5||0-0||1||0||0||2|
|J. Collins, C||9||0-1||0-2||1||0||2||0|
|S. Williams, PF||29||5-8||4-8||7||0||2||14|
|M. Allen, PF||22||0-5||0-0||6||1||0||0|
|B. Nachbar, SF||21||1-4||0-0||1||0||5||3|
|D. Armstrong, PG||18||2-6||2-2||3||2||1||6|
|J. Magloire, C||7||0-0||0-2||3||0||1||0|
|J. Boone, PF||5||0-3||0-2||2||0||0||0|
|V. Carter, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Williams, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Allen, SG||39||4-14||5-5||5||6||1||14|
|P. Pierce, SG||39||6-10||2-4||3||3||3||15|
|K. Garnett, PF||31||8-15||0-0||8||2||5||16|
|R. Rondo, PG||31||6-9||1-2||4||5||3||13|
|K. Perkins, C||30||3-6||4-4||8||2||3||10|
|T. Allen, SG||24||3-6||7-12||3||2||3||13|
|J. Posey, SF||23||1-2||3-4||5||0||3||6|
|B. Scalabrine, PF||10||0-1||0-0||2||1||0||0|
|G. Davis, PF||9||0-3||0-0||3||0||4||0|
|L. Powe, PF||3||2-4||0-0||1||0||3||4|
|G. Pruitt, PG||2||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|S. Pollard, C||Did Not Play|
|E. House, SG||Did Not Play|
|B. Wallace, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|