for this game

Celtics beat Timberwolves to climb atop the Atlantic

Mar 31, 2012 - 3:10 AM Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - For the first time this season, Boston is alone atop the Atlantic Division.

Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and the Celtics beat Minnesota, 100-79, at the Target Center Friday night. Boston's win, combined with Philadelphia's 97-76 loss at Washington, moved the Celtics a game ahead of the 76ers in the division.

Paul Pierce contributed 21 points and Rajon Rondo tallied 17 assists, as the Celtics won their fourth in a row. They've also beaten Minnesota 10 straight times, and now look forward to a home game against the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Love had 22 points and 11 rebounds, but went just 5-of-18 from the field as Minnesota faltered by shooting 34.7 percent. That included a woeful 24.3 percent clip over the last 24 minutes, including missing all 13 three-point attempts.

"Our defense is who we are," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "With Kevin Love and that group, they're a terrific offensive unit. It takes a ton of discipline to try and take away all the back cuts and pushing the ball. I thought our guys did a great job of it all night."

The Celtics made better than 56 percent of their shots in the opening quarter and used a big early run to take a double-digit advantage. Two free throws from Brandon Bass expanded the lead to 17-6 and the Celtics ended with 31 points in the period, holding the same 11-point margin after 12 minutes.

Minnesota cut what was a 16-point deficit down to nine in the final minute of the second before Rondo's floater fell through for a 56-45 halftime difference.

The Timberwolves, who had just nine made field goals in the second half, trailed by double digits the entire third quarter and trailed 79-67 going to the final quarter.

Garnett burned his old team by scoring 10 in the fourth. The Timberwolves and then made just 3-of-17 shots in the last quarter, including going 0-for-8 from three-point range.

"They got baskets in the paint and they just came out and took it to us," Love said. "You can tell they're in playoff mode right now. They've won six of the last seven, so they're playing good basketball now."

Game Notes

Ray Allen sat out his fifth straight game for Boston due to a sore right ankle...Minnesota's 21 turnovers led to 16 points for the Celtics...Love came into Friday averaging 37.3 points and 16.3 rebounds over the past four games and an NBA-best 31.3 ppg this month...Luke Ridnour had 15 points and eight assists, while Derrick Williams scored 14 in defeat...Avery Bradley scored 17 for the Celtics...Garnett is 6-0 against Minnesota since he was dealt to the Celtics in 2007.