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Joe Johnson scores 27 as Nets' home streak reaches 11

Joe Johnson of the Nets smiles from the

Joe Johnson of the Nets smiles from the sidelines late in a game against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on Friday, March 21, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Not one of them leaped off the Barclays Center court and clicked the heels of his Nikes three times while holding Toto.

Still, there's little doubt that the Nets have taken this "there's no place like home" thing so seriously that even Dorothy might cry copyright infringement. They've created a not-so-friendly environment for visitors at their billion-dollar playground at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, making it a treacherous place to navigate.

In beating the Celtics, 114-98, Friday night, the Nets extended their home winning streak to 11. It's their longest such stretch since reeling off 12 in a row in 2006 and matches the second-longest home winning streak in the NBA this season.

The Nets (36-31) are 18-2 in their last 20 home games. "We've got 11 straight, so we are definitely playing well here," Deron Williams said. "The crowd is definitely involved, and definitely playing a big part of that. So hopefully we can continue that going forward."

More like upward, given just how hot the Nets are. By dispatching Boston (23-47) in a game in which they led for the final 39:10, the Nets continued their remarkable ascension.

They're 26-10 since the calendar flipped to 2014, and they pulled to within a game of the Bulls for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

They've also climbed within 11/2 games of the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors and have done it mostly without the services of Kevin Garnett. He sat out his 11th straight game with back spasms and won't accompany the Nets on their upcoming three-game road trip.

"I think we are clicking on all cylinders right now," said Paul Pierce (14 points). "We are starting to reach our peak at the right time at this point of the season with about a month left, where everybody is growing with confidence. And the good thing is maybe in a week or two weeks, whenever Kevin comes back, it'll just make us that much more deep. So it's good that we are playing this without a huge piece of our puzzle."

Joe Johnson scored 16 of his 27 points in the third quarter. "Well, we've been playing pretty good at home as a team, man," he said. "We've got great ball movement offensively and guys are really getting into the teeth of the defense, making plays defensively. We gang rebounded and are just helping each other out. It's been beautiful to watch and it's been beautiful to be a part of."

New York Sports