Jefferson, New Jersey shoot down Celtics


BOSTON (AP) – Richard Jefferson made five free throws down the stretch and New Jersey played stellar defense to beat the Boston Celtics 79-74 on Friday night.

Jefferson, who scored 12 points, extended the Nets’ one-point lead to 75-69 with 1:30 left by converting five of six foul shots.

The Nets held the Celtics to 38 percent shooting (26-for-68).

After matching the franchise record with 14 straight victories, the Nets (48-31) had dropped three of four before Friday’s win.

Vince Carter led the Nets with 15 points, but was only 4-for-16 from the field. Carter had scored 20 or more points in 23 straight games. Cliff Robinson added 14 points, including a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left that gave the Nets a 78-71 lead.

Nenad Krstic had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

New Jersey, which trailed by as many as 11 points, took its first lead of the second half with 38 seconds left in the third quarter. Jefferson converted one of two free throws and Robinson tipped in the miss, giving the Nets a 55-52 lead.

Paul Pierce scored 22 points and Ryan Gomes added 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Celtics (32-48). Gomes had only four points and two rebounds in the second half.

Tony Allen added 11 points for the Celtics, who have lost three in a row and who are 2-5 in April.

The Celtics held a 33-25 halftime advantage.

Notes: Legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach was on hand to present Pierce with the first annual Red Auerbach Award, awarded to the player who best exemplifies what it means to be a Celtic. Auerbach watched the game courtside from a wheelchair. … Carter trails Bernard King on the all-time Nets single-season scoring mark. He needs 28 points to break the mark, which King set with 1,909 points during the 1977-78 season.

AP-ES-04-14-06 2228EDT