NEWARK, N.J. -- Rajon Rondo played the game like it meant something.
Rasheed Wallace scored 20 points and Rondo added 18 points and 13 assists to lead the Boston Celtics to a 91-88 preseason victory over the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night in the first NBA game in the Prudential Center.
While several of his more heralded teammates took the night off or saw limited action, Rondo went full tilt, playing over 40 minutes.
"I wanted to play it out," he said. "I was playing to win. It's still a game. You don't put on the uniform to lose. People might not take as seriously, I wanted to win regardless."
And he was relentless, sparking the Celtics to the come-from-behind victory.
"Rondo went out and showed you why he is an elite point guard," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Exhibition, it doesn't matter. He goes hard for 40 minutes. He takes over."
Glen Davis scored 18 points for the Celtics (3-1).
Courtney Lee had 21 points for the Nets (0-4), while Chris Douglas-Roberts added 19 points and Brook Lopez had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Nets closed the first half on an 18-7 run to take a 60-47 lead. Lopez had six points in the run while Devin Harris and Lee both had 5.
The Celtics scored the final seven points of the third quarter to cut New Jersey's lead to 77-70. They took an 85-82 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a jumper by Rondo.
The Nets led by one when they turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation with 42.7 seconds remaining. Eddie House hit an off-balance jumper for an 89-88 lead. The Nets best chance to take the lead vanished when Douglas-Roberts was called for an offensive foul.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen all had the night off for the Celtics, while Marquis Daniels played only the first half, sitting out the rest of the game with an upset stomach.
For the Nets, Harris, who finished with nine points, did not return after halftime because of a strained right groin. Yi Jianlian left after the first half with a strained right shoulder.
The Nets will play another preseason game at the Prudential Center, Oct. 21 against the New York Knicks.
The Nets play their regular-season games at the Izod Center in East Rutherford. Scheduling the two exhibition games at the Prudential Center fueled speculation that they were a test run of a potential new home.
Nets officials insist Newark is not the long-range answer, that a new arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. will be their ultimate destination. If the remaining legal and financial obstacles are overcome, the Nets hope to break ground on the Brooklyn arena later this year with the goal of playing there in 2011-12.
The game drew 12,790 to the Prudential Center, the home of the NHL's New Jersey Devils that opened in October 2007.