Rajon Rondo had 19 points while Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green had big contributions off the bench as the Celtics beat the Nets, 93-76, in a Christmas Day encounter at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The rookie Sullinger matched a career high with 16 points while Green had 15 points to help the Celtics get their four-game road trip off on a winning note and get over the .500 mark against at 14-13 on the season.
The two teams were involved in an altercation that resulted in a two-game suspension of Rondo for shoving Kris Humphries on Nov. 28 at TD Garden. Humphries did not play with a mild abdominal strain. Rondo had six rebounds, five assists and three steals as the Celtics tied the Nets for second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Knicks.
The only significant altercation between the two teams came early in the fourth quarter when Gerald Wallace tugged at the pants and jersey of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics forward swiped at Wallace's hands to let go but nothing further came of the encounter. Both Garnett and Wallace were assessed technicals on the play and Wallace made just one of two free throws.
The Celtics were somewhat sluggish in the first quarter, trailing 24-22 after 12 minutes. But the Celtics outscored the Nets, 34-18, in the second quarter and took a 56-42 lead at the half. Sullinger led the way with 10 and six rebounds in 18 minutes in the first half.
Rondo helped the Celtics open the lead to 64-43 early in the third quarter before the Nets went on a 14-2 run to make it a nine-point game midway through the third. But the Celtics closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer that gave Boston a 73-58 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Celtics built their lead back to 19 points and mained a double-digit lead throughout the fourth quarter. The Celtics were tougher than the Nets on the boards for the first time this season, outrebounding Brooklyn 41-36 in winning for the first time in three meetings this season with their Atlantic Division rival.
The Celtics wore a special green-on-green Christmas unform as an alternate jersey while coaches from both teams wore green ribbons in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn. The Celtics now head west for the final three games of their road trip with games against the Clippers, Warriors and Kings. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics .