BOSTON — Deron Williams scored 29 points and dished out 12 assists, Brook Lopez added 21 points, and Joe Johnson added 20 points as the Brooklyn Nets overcame a sluggish start before pulling away from the Boston Celtics for a 101-93 victory Wednesday night.
The Nets won their third game in a row to remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with four games to play. Brooklyn (46-32) is three games behind the Indiana Pacers and 3 1/2 ahead of the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, in excellent position to secure home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Paul Pierce scored 23 points for Boston (40-38). The Celtics have lost nine of their past 13 yet still sit comfortably in seventh place in the East, three games in front of the Milwaukee Bucks with four to go.
Kevin Garnett chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds for Boston in just his second game back after missing eight due to left ankle inflammation. Jeff Green also scored 11, and Brandon Bass had 10.
Boston and Brooklyn hadn’t met since the Celtics crushed the Nets by 17 on Christmas Day in a game featuring three ejections.
Wednesday’s game was a one-sided fight.
The Nets — who hit 25 of 28 free throws — opened up a 13-point lead early in the fourth after four straight points by Kris Humphries, but Garnett converted a three-point play to trim the deficit to 10 with under nine minutes to go.
Boston crept within eight when Green delivered a three-point play, but the Celtics had no answer for Williams down the stretch.
The pesky point scored six straight points for Brooklyn, sinking a long jumper and then knifing through the lane for a layup that all but put the game away at 95-82 with 4:35 to play. Lopez later capped an 8-0 run with a dunk that made it 99-82.
On the heels of a game-altering spurt to the close the first half and open a double-digit lead at the break, the Nets picked up in the third quarter right where they left off.
Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, Williams sank a long jumper and Jerry Stackhouse added a baseline jumper that handed the Nets a 60-45 lead.
Pierce twice sliced the lead to 12, but Brooklyn ballooned the lead to 68-52 with 5:37 to play in the third behind six points from Lopez and another jumper from Stackhouse.
Boston whittled the deficit to eight following a 3-pointer from Green and three points from Pierce, but Brooklyn maintained its 10-point cushion entering the fourth.
NOTES: Brooklyn entered the game 31-18 since P.J. Carlesimo took over as interim coach, tying him for the best start as head coach through 49 games in franchise history. … Johnson played in his 900th career game. … Boston’s Jason Terry and Pierce both played in their 1,100th career game. … Garnett passed John Stockton on Wednesday and moved into sixth place in NBA history in minutes played during the regular season. … Brooklyn’s MarShon Brooks and Johnson were both drafted by Boston. Brooks was selected in the first round (25th overall) of the 2011 draft before being traded to the Nets, while Johnson was the 10th overall pick of the 2001 draft. … When the teams met on Nov. 28, 2012, Boston’s Rajon Rondo and Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries were all ejected from the game following a second-quarter skirmish.
Heat 103, Wizards 98: With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh unavailable for the Heat, Ray Allen matched his season-high with 23 points, and Miami clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs with a 103-98 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
Rashard Lewis scored 17 points, and Shane Battier had 15 points with five 3-pointers for the Heat (62-16).
Miami made more 3-point field goals (17) than shots from inside the arc (16) and pulled away with an 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter before the sellout crowd of 20,308.
No James (sore right hamstring), Wade (sore right knee) or Bosh (flu) in the lineup meant the Heat played without any members of their starry trio for the first time this season. Udonis Haslem, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, also sat out the victory that ensured every playoff series the team participates in will begin in Miami.
“Right now it’s about getting them healthy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game.
A.J. Price matched his career-high with 23 points, and John Wall had 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Wizards (29-50), who had won nine straight home games. Washington has dropped three straight overall, and it has allowed 37 3-pointers over the past two games.
James missed his fourth game of the season after scoring 28 points in 30 minutes against Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Spoelstra denied any setback occurred against the Bucks.
“Want to make sure he feels right,” the coach said. “He was a little bit tight yesterday after the game. That was probably to be expected. It was the same amount of tightness he had after Saturday night’s game, but we had two days off in between, so he was able to manage that. That was not the case (Wednesday) with the quick turnaround, so hopefully we can continue to get him stronger each day.”
Without their top three scorers, the Heat turned into a pure 3-point shooting team, attempting 41 shots from long range. Mike Miller made four and scored 14 points, while Mario Chalmers hit four 3s en route to 13 points.
Neither side could pull away until the Heat jumped in front 85-76 during the fourth quarter. After the Wizards quickly rallied back within 87-86 with 4:59 remaining, Allen scored six straight points including his first 3-pointer of the game. Chris Anderson’s two free throws capped the run, making it 98-88 with 2:52 left.
Martell Webster scored 12 points for the Wizards, but left midway through the third quarter with an abdominal strain. He did not return.