Joe Johnson scored 18 points and Jerry Stackhouse added a spark off the bench with a season-high 17 points, as streaking Brooklyn downed Boston, 95-83, in a contentious affair at TD Garden.
The biggest story other than the Nets' impressive win over an Eastern Conference bellwether was a first-half brawl that resulted in the ejection of three players, Boston's Rajon Rondo and Brooklyn's Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace.
With both Brooklyn starting forwards ejected late in the second quarter, it opened more minutes for Stackhouse, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans. Blatche posted 17 points with 13 rebounds and Evans responded with five points and 10 boards for the Nets, who have won four straight.
"(We were) mentally tough," said Brooklyn head coach Avery Johnson. "Lot of fiber on our team. And a battle. They battled and they fought hard, literally I guess. And they just didn't give in. They didn't give in to any adversity tonight. We had a lot of adversity on the court on the road."
Boston never got in sync, with or without Rondo, who saw his double-digit assist streak halted at 37 straight games, tying him with former Utah Jazz guard John Stockton for second on the all-time list. He finished with six points and three assists, while Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett each scored 16 points for the Celtics, who saw their brief 2-game winning streak come to an end.
"I mean, hell, we didn't come to play; as a team, that was awful, basketball- wise. I thought, if I'm Brooklyn and the league, you've got to think we're pretty soft the way we're playing," said Boston head coach Doc Rivers. We're a soft team right now; we have no toughness."
Garnett was also involved in the brawl, as Humphries was whistled for a hard foul against the Celtics forward on the baseline, including an extra push that infuriated both Garnett and Rondo, who charged at Humphries and started a brawl that included pushing, shoving and perhaps a swing or two. Garnett was whistled for a technical along with the three ejections.
When the dust settled, officials ejected Rondo, handed a technical foul to Garnett and second technical fouls to Humphries and Wallace, leading to the ejection of Brooklyn's two starting forwards.
While the brawl was the headline grabber, Brooklyn quietly dominated the opening 24 minutes, running off eight straight capped by Johnson's three for a 17-14 lead then moving out to a 27-20 advantage on five straight points from Wallace. Blatche's free throw closed the scoring for a 28-20 lead, and the Nets extended their margin in the second stanza.
Stackhouse set out on his solid shooting night with a quick three and four consecutive points from CJ Watson gave the visitors their largest lead, 39-24. Later, Stackhouse hit another three-pointer for a 44-26 lead and Brook Lopez's three-point play made the score 47-26 with just under four minutes to go in the half.
In the midst of the brawl, Boston actually got into the deficit and moved within 51-38 at the half as Garnett's two free throws capped a 12-4 half- closing spurt.
Boston got within 11 before Brooklyn pushed the edge out to 68-49 on the second of two Stackhouse free throws with just over 2 1/2 minutes to go in the third quarter. The visitors took a 70-55 lead into the fourth quarter behind a strong performance from its bench, including Blatche and Stackhouse.
The Celtics never got closer than nine in the fourth as the Nets cruised to a win that kicked off a three-game road trip.
Lopez scored nine points with 10 rebounds while battling foul trouble ... Watson scored 13 points in the victory ... Brooklyn made 10 three-pointers, while Boston made just 1-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc ... Magic Johnson holds the record for consecutive double-digit assist games at 46.