NEWARK, N.J. — Opening the preseason with back-to-back games was bad enough. The last thing Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers wanted was overtime.
Marquis Daniels made his coach — and a lot of other people in the Prudential Center — very happy Thursday night, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 35.4 seconds to play to lead the Celtics to a 96-92 win over the New Jersey Nets.
“I liked seeing anybody hit that shot,” Rivers said after the defending Eastern Conference champions won their second straight. “I’m glad he shot it. The fact that he was looking for it concerned me, but it was great. I love when guys other than the big guys make shots. It’s good for all of them.”
New Jersey had chipped away at an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit against the bottom of the Boston bench and eventually tied the game at 90 on a 3-pointer by Jordan Farmer with 59 seconds to play.
After missing a drive inside and having the ball go out of bounds off New Jersey, the Celtics had seven seconds to get off a shot. Daniels hit his from the left corner with the shot clock running out.
“I had to get it up,” said Daniels, who finished with nine points. “The shot clock was going down. It was a sporadic play. Mario (West) made a good pass back out, and I hit a tough shot and we came out with a good win.”
Rivers quipped that the Celtics weren’t going to allow overtime.
“We were going to do something about that, I guarantee you,” River said. “Yeah, we just could have gotten a tech.”
Glen Davis had 20 points and Nate Robinson added 17, including three free throws in the final 15.7 seconds, for Boston (2-0). Paul Pierce scored 15 points, while Shaquille O’Neal had eight points and five rebounds in his return to his hometown.
“Some of the best times of my life were here,” O’Neal said. “I learned my toughness here. I learned how to be a man. I learned my trials and tribulations here. I am Newark.”
Brook Lopez had 23 points and Terrence Williams added 17 to lead the Nets (1-1), who also have a win over Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League.
Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick in the draft, had his second straight bad game for New Jersey. He had three points on 1-of-6 shooting and fouled out.
The Celtics played their starters in the first and third quarters, and Pierce, Ray Allen and O’Neal helped Boston take a 77-69 lead entering the fourth.
Williams cut the margin to 93-92 with two free throws with 19 seconds left but Robinson converted from the foul line and New Jersey lost a chance to tie the game when Anthony Morrow stepped on the sideline trying to take a game-tying 3-point attempt.
“I had three guys coming at me,” said Morrow, who said he was out of bounds. “They probably knew I was going to take the shot.”
The game drew 8,483 fans to the Prudential Center, the Nets home for the next two seasons, and they saw an ugly contest that featured 58 personal fouls and four technicals.
“Obviously we’re getting better,” Nets point guard Devin Harris said. “The first half defensively wasn’t our best half, but we held them to 40 points in the second half. We’re making aggressive mistakes and we will continue to correct them and get better as the year goes on.”