Saturday February 9, 2013
Pierce sparks Celtics to victory over Lakers
BOSTON: Somewhere between Jason Terry’s 25-foot three-pointer in the first half and Dwight Howard fouling out in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles realised this wasn’t going to be their evening.
The short-handed Boston Celtics steamrolled the Lakers 116-95 on Thursday behind a potent offence, including Paul “The Truth” Pierce’s 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Jeff Green scored 19 points off the bench, while Terry and Kevin Garnett added 15 apiece for the Celtics who shot 53% from the field and led by as many as 32 points in the second half.
“I like our drive, I like our spirit,” said Celtic coach Doc Rivers. “We’re playing selfless and free.”
The Celtics won again despite missing all-star Rajon Rondo, who is out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Boston has won all six games since guard Rondo went down with the knee injury.
They are also without rookie starter Jared Sullinger, whose first season ended with back surgery.
“During the six game streak we’ve had a lot of lessons,” Rivers said. “You don’t sit on a lead with offence. You sit on a lead with defence.”
The contest was hyped as a battle between two of the most storied franchises in the NBA but it ended up being a mismatch.
Garnett reached a milestone against the Lakers by reaching 25,000 career points. He is only the 16th player in history to hit that plateau.
It marked the worst loss of the season for the Lakers, who fell behind 103-71 with 8:16 left in the fourth and looked listless despite getting centre Howard back. The Lakers came into the contest having won all three games Howard missed with a shoulder injury.
Howard was a non-factor against the Celtics, fouling out with just over five minutes left in the fourth. He finished with just nine points and nine rebounds.
The Lakers got more bad news just prior to the opening tip off as they learned forward Pau Gasol suffered a tear of the plantar fascia – on the bottom of his right foot – and will be out for a minimum six to eight weeks.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Faried celebrated his invitation to the league’s annual Slam Dunk contest with a series of rim-rattling, crowd-pleasing jams that helped Denver extend their winning streak to eight games.
Faried finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes as the Nuggets won for the 15th time in 18 games since Jan 1.
Wilson Chandler added 24 points in just 19 minutes as the Nuggets made quick work of a stingy Bulls team that came in yielding just 91 points a game but watched Denver pour in 100 by the time the third quarter was over.
Carlos Boozer led Chicago’s starters with 18 points and Daequan Cook had 19 points off the bench. — AFP