Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce get win over old coach, Doc Rivers as Nets beat Clippers

Nets forward Paul Pierce controls the ball against

Nets forward Paul Pierce controls the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center. (Dec. 12, 2013) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Kevin Garnett didn't even look out at the court once he peeled his warm-ups off, put talcum powder on his hands and stepped on the sticky tape to get his sneaker traction in order.

Garnett headed straight for enemy territory, determined to give a public sign of affection to the guy he still speaks to frequently. He extended his right hand and gave Doc Rivers a handshake and a hug, quickly exchanging pleasantries with the Clippers' coach -- something Paul Pierce couldn't do at the same time, because he came off the bench for the second straight game.

So unlike the game between the teams in Los Angeles last month, when Garnett and Pierce didn't suit up and weren't in attendance on the tail end of a back-to-back, the Boston Reunion finally was on Thursday night. Garnett, Pierce and Rivers were on the same court again, and there was little doubt that this was a wacky experience for the trio.

"It was a bit weird," Garnett said after the Nets beat Rivers' Clippers, 102-93, at Barclays Center. "I said something to Truth [Pierce] like, 'Man, this feels weird, don't it?' And we kind of like had a little conversation about it. But I will always have a special place for Doc. I thought he not only helped me grow as a player but as a young man. He taught us a lot about, not just basketball and the philosophies of it, but being a young man, a young black man, understanding your responsibilities.

"No one is perfect. All humans have their flaws or whatever. But shoot, he is damn near close to it, and I'm just grateful that he came in my life and I'm able to say that I had that experience with him."

Just as he's probably tickled that the Nets (8-14), who won their third straight, actually enjoyed a rare laugher. Behind a balanced offensive attack, spirited defensive play and an all-around energetic effort that had the sellout crowd buzzing, they grounded the high-flying Clippers (15-9) and earned their first victory over a team with a winning record since Nov. 15 at Phoenix.

Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche had 21 points each for the Nets and Chris Paul scored 20 for the Clippers.

But of course, in a season in which not much has gone right, the Nets couldn't completely enjoy this one. A key player suffered yet another injury, as Brook Lopez sprained his left ankle in the third quarter on a post move. He left the game and briefly returned before sitting out the entire fourth quarter, leaving his availability for Friday night's game in Detroit up in the air. It's the same ankle he initially injured in Phoenix, causing him to miss seven games.

"It's doing well," said Lopez, who traveled with the team after the game. "I just twisted it a little, sprained it a little. I think I got hit by someone . . . But it seems better. Last time I twisted it, it felt much more severe."

It was an impressive game by the Nets, one in which they went up by 20 in the third quarter. They outscored the Clippers 27-18 in the third to grab an 83-62 edge, leaving little doubt that Garnett and Pierce would get the better of the man with whom they won an NBA title in 2008.

"It was just fun to go over there and say hi to him, see how he's doing," said Pierce, who had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. " . . . I actually went over and told him I know all his plays and I'm giving them away. So it was fun to see him for the first time."

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