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NBA Game Summary - New Jersey at Boston

(Friday, February 9th)

Final Score: New Jersey 92, Boston 78

Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Not even the return of their star could lift the Boston Celtics out of their franchise-long funk.

Paul Pierce returned to the hardwood for the first time in 24 games but had a tough time shaking off the rust, as the New Jersey Nets dropped Boston, 92-78, at TD Banknorth Garden.

Pierce had been sidelined since mid-December with a bad left foot. He travelled with the team to Detroit earlier this week, but was sent home on Tuesday and was later hospitalized due to an infection in his left elbow.

He finally rejoined his teammates with 4:12 left in the first quarter, coming off the bench to a standing ovation from the Boston faithful. He went 0-for-7 in the first half for zero points, however, and finished with nine points in just over 20 minutes of action.

"It's probably going to take me a couple of weeks of playing. I sat out so long and not even play a lick of basketball. I feel like it's summertime again," Pierce said before the game. "It takes you a couple of weeks to really get going and sort of get into a rhythm."

Vince Carter netted 21 points and added seven rebounds and five assists for New Jersey, which has won two in a row. Jason Kidd added 13 points, nine assists and eight boards, while Marcus Williams dropped in 17 off the bench.

Delonte West paced his club with 21 points and Al Jefferson posted a double- double with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Celtics, who have lost a staggering 17 games in a row.

The Celtics were down just 19-16 after 12 minutes of play and kept the deficit at three, 42-39, at intermission.

The Nets, though, outscored the Celtics 27-17 in the third quarter to gain command. New Jersey started the frame on a 12-5 run, which Carter capped with a driving layup to push the lead to 54-44.

After three quarters the road team led 69-56, and continued to pull away in the fourth.

Game Notes

Boston is just 4-21 at home this season...The Celtics haven't won since January 5 at Memphis...The Nets have won seven of the last nine meetings and three in a row in Boston.

02/09 22:24:03 ET

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