BOSTON – So what if Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo didn't exactly appear to be giving it their all, knowing the Nets were going to be playing this one without their starting five.
Tuesday night's 97-96 preseason victory over the Celtics at TD Garden in come-from-behind fashion still left an impression on Avery Johnson. The Nets outscored the Celtics' reserves 23-13 in the final quarter and Mirza Teletovic's free throw with 3.6 seconds left was the difference, sending the Nets to a one-point win that leaves them at 3-0 in the preseason heading into Thursday's nationally-televised tilt against the Celtics at the Barclays Center.
"It was great," Johnson said. "Like I told our team, we’ve got a different spirit this year. We can talk about it’s preseason and all of that. But our guys played tonight. Every guy that was in uniform came out there with a purpose. Guys like [Jerry] Stackhouse gave us a lift in the first half and then we had some guys in there at the end – Toko [Shengelia], Mirza, [Stephen] Dennis, [Carlton] Scott, [Josh] Childress -- all of those guys played a role and it’s just good that we have a different feeling.
"It helped tonight."
Andray Blatche continued his strong play, pumping in 23 points and collecting nine rebounds. Teletovic found his stroke after struggling in the first two games, canning 4 of 10 attempts from three-point range and 6 of 17 overall. He finished with 18 points and four rebounds.
"It definitely feels great," Blatche said. "We came in as the second unit. We fought hard. We got down. We never gave up. That’s always a good sign, and to come on top with the victory means a lot to us."
Shengelia added 11 points and rookie Tyshawn Taylor had six points and five assists, turning the ball over just once in his debut and gaining some much-needed experience.
"You are playing in Boston. You can’t simulate this," Johnson said. "We had so many simulations trying to get ready for a preseason game. You can’t simulate playing in Boston. But guys have some confidence. They are not going to be overconfident. But a lot of our guys who haven't had a chance to play, they will have a little more confidence playing against another team."
One of the key plays was Shengelia throwing down a driving right-handed dunk over Fab Melo with 40.5 seconds remaining. He hit the free throw to convert an old school three-point play and hand the Nets a 96-95 triumph.
Said Shengelia: "I have hops."
Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill, whom Doc Rivers handed the coaching reins in the second half, admitted he was tempted to put the Celtics' core group in, but opted not to.
"They were all in my ear saying that they want to go in," Hill said. "But you know, you want to give guys a chance. You want to give guys an opportunity to learn the pressure. The game was theirs to have. But Jeff [Green] wanted to go in, a couple of guys. But we just kept those guys."