for this game

Celtics beat Hornets 97-87 to improve to 4-0

Nov 2, 2009 - 2:43 AM By JIMMY GOLEN AP Sports Writer

BOSTON(AP) -- Chris Paul gets the individual accolades. Rajon Rondo has the team success.

Together, it's enough to make each player a little envious.

Paul outplayed Rondo on Sunday night, but the Celtics beat the New Orleans Hornets 97-87 anyway as Boston improved to 4-0 behind Paul Pierce's 27 points. After the game, Paul pursued Rondo toward the Celtics' locker room and had to be blocked by Boston assistant coaches.

"Rondo is a lucky guy, to play with guys like Pierce, (Ray) Allen and (Kevin) Garnett," Paul, who scored 22 points with eight assists, said with a sly smile.

Asked if that was meant as a slight toward Rondo, the two-time All-Star said, "No, no. He is a great point guard and he's a champion. It's my hope to achieve that."

Rondo had even less to say on the matter, which seemed to stem from a second-quarter incident when the two got tangled up under the basket after Ray Allen's 3-pointer. Referees stepped between them as words were exchanged and the players were assessed matching technical fouls.

"Rajon has requested you not ask anything about Chris Paul now, tomorrow, or any other time," Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said when Rondo limped out of the trainer's room favoring his right ankle.

"We have different styles based on what each team needs," Rondo said. "He has to do a lot more than what I have to do. My job is easy playing with these guys."

Allen scored 17 points, Kevin Garnett had 14 and Rondo had 10 assists and six points for Boston, which pulled away with an 11-3 run in the last four minutes to turn an 86-83 lead into an 11-point runaway. But even after it was over, Paul was still upset with Rondo.

The Hornets point guard walked toward the Boston locker room as the Celtics were filing off the court before Celtics' assistant coaches stopped him; New Orleans coach Byron Scott came over to retrieve him.

Rondo looked back but kept walking.

"The game's over; you just want everybody to clear the floor," Allen said. "They're both feisty; they're both aggressive, in your face. It can get pretty chippy out there.

"But you have to be able to walk off the floor and say, 'Way to compete tonight. For those 48 minutes, I cannot stand you. I wanted to fight you. I wanted to do everything I could.' And when you walk off the floor, you say, 'Way to battle."'

Peja Stojakovic scored 26 as a reserve for New Orleans, including 6-for-10 3-point shooting. Emeka Okafor had 10 rebounds for New Orleans.

The Celtics, who won their first eight in their 2007-08 championship season but just two straight to start last year, have won four games in six nights, including a season-opening victory over the rival Cleveland Cavaliers and All-Star LeBron James.

"When you are winning, you can do that," Paul said, without elaborating on what he was referring to. "They are on top; we are on the bottom. We want to get where they are. I am a huge advocate for the Boston Celtics. ... They've established themselves as a team that won't beat themselves."

Pierce scored 10 in the first and 10 more in the second as the Celtics opened an 11-point lead en route to a 47-38 score at the half. They led from the 9:41 mark of the second until Stojakovic hit a 3-pointer to tie it 69-all with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

But Rasheed Wallace, who scored 12, answered with a 3 to give Boston back the lead.

Paul had just five points and three assists but went 6 for 6 for 14 points with four assists in the third quarter alone.

NOTES: In their first two home games, the Celtics held the Bobcats and Bulls to a combined 2 for 25 from 3-point range. ... Rondo said before the game he was not worried about a deadline to sign a contract extension. Without one, he can become a restricted free agent next summer. ... Paul hit a desperation 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer that was waved off. ... Okafor missed his third straight double-double, scoring just five points, after missing the entire preseason with a toe injury.