AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Deron Williams and Paul Pierce returned to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night against Boston, with Pierce coming off the bench against his former team after a quick return from a broken right hand.
Williams was in the starting lineup for his first game since spraining his left ankle again on Nov. 20 against Charlotte. He has missed the past nine games and played in just nine so far this season.
Pierce was expected to miss two to four weeks after he was injured on Nov. 29 at Houston, but ended up sitting out just four games before returning to practice Monday.
"I just told him come to me when you think it's close, and he told he was going to practice on Monday, and so when I had 13 guys at practice on Monday, probably the last time was in training camp, it was good," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "And so he was one of the bright spots in that practice."
The Nets have been hit hard by injuries this season and are still without key reserves Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Jason Terry (left knee), who came with Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston.
Pierce is on pace for the worst season of his career. His average of 12.4 points and .368 shooting percentage would easily be the lowest for the No. 2 career scorer in Celtics history.
He was appearing as a reserve for the first time since Feb. 9, 2007, with Kidd saying he wanted to give Pierce time to get used to the protective glove he would wear.
Williams has also been a disappointment, scoring just 9.3 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting. He originally sprained his ankle just before training camp, sat out nearly the entire preseason, and struggled after returning.
The Nets haven't had their regular starting five of Williams, Pierce, Garnett, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson since Nov. 15 against Phoenix. Alan Anderson continued to start in Pierce's place Tuesday.
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