Nets no match for Boston

January 14, 2009 7:22:49 PM PST
Paul Pierce shook off a cold first half and scored 18 points in the third quarter with perfect shooting to lead the Boston Celtics to their third straight win, 118-86 over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night. Pierce went 5-for-5 in the period, all 3-pointers, and added three free throws as he scored 22 points two nights after getting a season-high 39 in an overtime win over Toronto. The Nets also won in overtime that night, beating Oklahoma City.

But the only tie Wednesday was 0-0. And New Jersey's only lead was 13-11 on a 3-pointer by Bobby Simmons. Ray Allen then gave Boston the lead for good with a 3-pointer that made it 14-13 with 5:56 left in the first quarter.

The Celtics led 51-41 at halftime and opened their biggest margin, 112-79, on a basket by Patrick O'Bryant with 3:21 remaining.

Kevin Garnett scored 20 points for the Celtics, who have emerged from a surprising 2-7 slump after going 27-2, the best 29-game start in NBA history.

The Nets were led by Devin Harris with 17 points, while Keyon Dooling and rookies Ryan Anderson and Brook Lopez had 13 each.

Anderson made his second consecutive start in place of injured Yi Jianlian after sitting out the previous four games.

Pierce went just 2-for-9 and had four points in the first half.

But New Jersey's Vince Carter was even worse - 1-for-9 with four points in the half. Carter limped off the court with 7:09 left in the first quarter but returned 5 minutes later. He finished with four points on 1-of-10 shooting.

The Celtics quickly stretched their 10-point halftime lead by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter and 13 of the first 15.

With the score 58-41, Pierce made his first 3-pointer of the quarter, Rajon Rondo hit a basket and Pierce sank a free throw. His other 3-pointers put Boston ahead 69-49, 74-53, 81-58 and 84-58.

Boston led 88-60 after the third period and Pierce rested throughout the fourth.

Both teams were missing big men. Yi is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken finger and Boston center Kendrick Perkins sat out his third straight game with a sore left shoulder but is expected to return next week.

The Nets stayed close throughout the first quarter then lost their shooting touch by missing their first 10 shots of the second.

That helped Boston stretch a 30-23 lead after one quarter to 41-25 before Harris hit a layup with 5:40 left in the period.

Notes: Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny attended the game five days after finalizing a one-year, $5 million deal. Former Celtics forward Walter McCarty also was there.