BOSTON We've seen plenty of times when bad teams like New Jersey bring out the worst in the Boston Celtics.
But even a bad-playing Celtics squad was better than the injury-riddled Nets as Boston pulled away in the second half for an 89-70 win.
The Celtics (4-3) have now won four straight, a streak that began with the return of Paul Pierce to the lineup following a right heel injury.
And Pierce, who readily admits he's not in great basketball shape, is very much rounding into the kind of form the C's need from him.
Wednesday was another step in that direction, as Pierce poured in 24 points along with six rebounds and five assists.
He wasn't the only standout performer for Boston, as they played without Ray Allen (cold) for the first time this season. Filling in for Allen was Keyon Dooling, who had five points and an assist.
Brandon Bass continues to play a vital role off the bench, scoring 15 points to go with 13 rebounds for his second double-double this season.
The final score was indicative of how close the action was on Wednesday. At the half, Boston trailed 35-34.
After Nets center Mehmet Okur tied the game at 40, the C's closed out the third with a 23-7 run.
From there, the C's continued to have their way with the Nets (1-6) who were led by former Providence star and Celtics draft pick (he was traded to the Nets on draft night) MarShon Brooks. He had 17 points for New Jersey.
The Nets were noticeably short-handed, as they played without Deron Williams (ribs), Brook Lopez (foot) and Kris Humprhies (shoulder).