EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Lucious Harris and Jason Collins have restored a familiar look to the New Jersey Nets.
Harris scored 24 points off the bench and Collins added a season-high 15 in a balanced attack as the Nets cruised to a 90-75 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Last season, the Nets reached the NBA Finals despite no player averaging more than 15 points per game. This season, the team has relied more on the offense of All-Star point guard Jason Kidd and has suffered a bit.
The Nets lost 10 of 14 coming out of the All-Star break but appeared to straighten things out with Sunday's win at New Orleans that helped them maintain first place in the Atlantic Division. With Harris and Collins contributing, they made sure the Celtics did not get any closer.
Harris, who filled in as a starter earlier this season, snapped out of a slump that had seen him score just 25 points in the previous five games. He made 10-of-16 shots and scored 17 points in the final 14 minutes.
"It feels good to get a win. Wins have been scarce around here," Harris said. "I've been shooting the ball pretty poorly of late, but tonight I felt good out there. When we have this type of balance, we are tough to beat."
Collins also had been slumping, reaching double figures just once in the last eight games. But the second-year center made 4-of-5 shots and 7-of-8 free throws, scoring all of his points in the middle two quarters.
"I really didn't do anything different," Collins said. "I try to play each game the same. I try to be active and aggressive. We put a couple of good games together and hopefully we can keep it going. We had good balance tonight as a team."
Kenyon Martin added 17 points for the Nets (40-25), who improved to 27-5 at home as they began a stretch of three games against the teams chasing them. They host Philadelphia on Sunday and visit Boston on Tuesday.
"This starts off a very big week for us with the Philadelphia 76ers coming in here Sunday," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "This was a great way to start. We did what we were supposed to do. Defensively, we were all over the place. On the offensive end, we just ran our offense."
Martin had even more of an impact at the defensive end, registering four steals and a block while holding All-Star Antoine Walker to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points for Boston, which shot less than 34 percent (26-of-77) and lost for just the second time in six games.
"Our defense was good and we played with a lot of energy, especially on Walker and Pierce," Martin said. "If you do a good job on them, you have a good chance against this team."
After a rare four-point play by Pierce gave the Celtics a 32-31 lead midway through the second quarter, the teams traded baskets before Kidd sank a 3-pointer to give the Nets the lead for good.
That began a 14-3 run that closed the half and saw Boston go scoreless from the field for more than five minutes. Working against the Celtics' smallish front line, the 7-foot Collins had five free throws and a layup in 80 seconds.
Collins' outburst was framed by dunks from Martin set up by Kidd, giving New Jersey a 47-37 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Collins had eight more points in a span of just over three minutes, widening a nine-point lead to 68-53 with 3:11 to go.
"Jason played great," Scott said. "He was big on both ends of the court. He was a key contributor on the defensive end, especially with his help. He was rebounding and knocking down shots. It was definitely one of his best games. He was ready to play." "We were right there in the first half, but we really could not get it going in the second half," Walker said. "They mixed it up with full-court pressure and played a little zone. They gave us a nice combination."
After 3-pointers by rookie J.R. Bremer, Pierce and Tony Delk cut the deficit to 81-71 with 6:19 remaining, Harris had two jumpers and a layup in a 9-0 spurt that settled matters.
Kidd had 13 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, Richard Jefferson had 11 points and eight boards and Kerry Kittles scored 10 points for the Nets, who shot 41 percent (31-of-76).
Bremer scored 13 points and Eric Williams added 12 for the Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers and fell to 15-17 on the road. They play five of their next six games away from home.
"They are a tough team to play against on back-to-back nights because they get up and down the court so well," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "I thought our turnovers killed us because it allowed them to get fast breaks. I think what was wrong with the offense was their defense. They played a very tough-minded defense that took us out of our rhythm."