Here's hoping the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets embrace the Christmas spirit more Tuesday afternoon than they did the last time around.
On Nov. 28, the Celtics and Nets engaged a little brawl that led to suspensions and fines.
Celtics' guard Rajon Rondo took exception to a Kris Humphries foul on an off- balanced Kevin Garnett. Rondo and Humphries spilled into the crowd at TD Center and Rondo sat out two games as a result.
The Nets bested the Celtics on that late November night, 95-83. The Celtics went 4-2 after the "brawl," but have fallen on tough times since. Boston is 1-4 in its last five and is already 6 1/2 games behind the New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division.
"I think we are playing better, we're just not winning," head coach Doc Rivers said after practice on Sunday. "I like where we're trending as a team, but the facts still say we're a .500 team right now. We have to do a lot of things better."
On Friday night, the Celtics fell at home to the Milwaukee Bucks, 99-94 in overtime. Boston squandered an eight-point lead to start the fourth quarter, but used a frantic final minute just to force the extra session. The Celtics overcame a seven-point deficit in the final minute until Monta Ellis scored five in overtime to give the Bucks the victory.
Just two nights after going off for 40 in Cleveland, Paul Pierce had 35 points and 12 rebounds against the Bucks. Kevin Garnett netted 12 points, Rajon Rondo handed out 11 assists and Jeff Green and Courtney Lee both had double-figures off the bench.
The Christmas matchup starts a four-game road trip for the Celtics. They head west for games with the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings.
The Celtics may get a little gift from Santa Claus on Tuesday. Guard Avery Bradley could be back in time for the game with the Nets.
Brooklyn halted a three-game losing streak Sunday afternoon against another Atlantic Division rival, the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets pulled out a 95-92 victory, thanks to all five starters scoring in double-figures, led by Joe Johnson's 22.
One player who was not in the starting lineup was Humphries. Nets coach Avery Johnson opted to move Gerald Wallace to the power forward and start Keith Bogans. Not only did Humphries lose his starting job, he didn't get off the bench against the Sixers.
"It's about more than just one player," said Humphries. "I didn't really know I was going to be a DNP (Did Not Play), but it's how you handle it. You've got to be ready."
Deron Williams iced the game for the Nets, who are 3-8 in the month of December. He made a late 3-pointer to clinch the game for Brooklyn and had 16 points.
The Nets are 2-0 against the Celtics this season, but Boston won 18 of the previous 20 before that.