NEW YORK – One of the greats to wear green, Paul Pierce found it strange playing for the other side.
"It was a little weird looking over and seeing all the green uniforms," he said of his first game against the Boston Celtics. "I'm used to lining up in the green and white for so long."
Pierce made just one basket but grabbed 10 rebounds and added five assists to help the Brooklyn Nets beat the Celtics 82-80 on Tuesday night in the first matchup between the teams since a blockbuster trade on draft night.
Brook Lopez scored 20 points and Andrey Blatche had 14 starting in place of Kevin Garnett for the Nets, who won it when Chris Johnson made two free throws with 7.0 seconds left after the game was tied at 80.
Pierce finished 1 of 6, his only basket a driving layup with 6.2 seconds left in the first half in the first meeting between the teams since the deal that sent Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn.
Coach Jason Kidd told Pierce to treat it like a green and white scrimmage — and the white pulled it out.
"I thought he handled it well, as any professional would," Kidd said.
Courtney Lee led the Celtics with 14 points but missed a potential tying jumper in the final seconds.
Pierce was the first Nets starter announced after he was always the last guy called in Boston. Originally shaken by the trade, he seemed to enjoy reminders of his past and catching up with his old teammates. He had a chat with Rajon Rondo by the Celtics bench while the Nets were shooting free throws, and later said something that drew a smile from Avery Bradley after blocking the guard's shot.
Pierce also visited the Celtics in their locker room before the game to wish them luck this season.
"It was weird at first, but it's at a point now where people just got to get used to it," Celtics forward Jeff Green said of the trade.
Pierce spent 15 years with the Celtics and is second on their career scoring list and was the MVP of the 2008 NBA Finals. He knows he has a lesser role on a deep Nets team, but won't accept that his days as an elite scorer are over.
"I still have it in the tank," he said. "When the big games come, I still am more than capable."
Garnett didn't play as part of a regularly scheduled night off after the Nets played Monday in Philadelphia. Kidd called it a "reward" for Garnett's good work during the preseason, though Garnett has already made it clear he doesn't want nights off.
The Nets were also without Deron Williams, who remains out with a sprained right ankle, and key reserves Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and Jason Terry (left knee), who was also part of the trade.
The Nets host the Miami Heat on Thursday night. They will retire Kidd's No. 5 before the game.