NEWARK, N.J. — The days of Avery Bradley being just a defensive guard for the Boston Celtics are seemingly over.

Bradley hit three straight 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 18 points in a game-deciding third quarter Saturday night as the surging Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets, 94-82.

“No one is talking about it but he is probably the most improved since he has been in the lineup,” point guard Rajon Rondo said after the Celtics won for the 10th time in 13 games and the 20th in 28.

“I know he hasn’t done it all year but the time he’s been given, we haven’t had a lot of practice time, but once Doc (Rivers) threw him in he was ready to go. He’s never looked back and he’s continued to grow. He’s playing well every game and he’s always positive and it shows on the floor.”

Bradley, 21, hit 7 of 14 shots, including 3 of 4 from long range. Before this game, he had never hit more than one 3-pointer in a game and had made only 9 of 30 all season.

“We know what he can do,” Paul Pierce said of Bradley. “It’s just about him developing his confidence and I said it over and over again, the more he plays, the more we show confidence in him.

“This kid was highly touted out of high school and was one year and out of college. We know he can play. It’s just about developing him and working his confidence. You see it night in and night out how it’s grown.”

Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Celtics, whose magic number for winning the Atlantic Division was reduced to four.

Rondo added 15 assists, Brandon Bass had 18 points and Pierce 17 points for Boston, which limited New Jersey to 34 second-half points in beating the Nets for the third time in three games this season.

The Celtics, who dropped a game Friday night at Toronto with a bad second half, weren’t about to let it happen Saturday.

“We came out a lot more aggressive,” Garnett said. “We ran our system and our things, and defensively we slowed them down a bit.”

NOTES: Boston guard Ray Allen is going to continue to sit out because of soreness and swelling in his right ankle.