for this game

Pierce sparks second-half spurt as Celtics roll in opener

Nov 3, 2007 - 4:10 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) - With the help of a pregame fireworks display and the showing of a world championship trophy from another sport, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen began a new era in Boston Celtics history in style.

Heralded as the most improved team in the Eastern Conference following the additions of the two superstars in the offseason, it was captain Paul Pierce who led the way with 28 points to lead the Celtics to a 103-83 rout of the Washington Wizards at TD Banknorth Garden on Friday.

Garnett was a force on the glass, hauling in 20 rebounds while adding 22 points and five assists. He shot 9-of-17 from the floor and added three steals and three blocks. Allen, who jump-started Boston's offense, chipped in 17 on 5-of-10 shooting as the Celtics won their season opener.

As impressive as the offense was, Boston made a bigger impression with its defense. Washington shot just 35 percent (28-of-80) and committed 20 turnovers. It set an NBA record by going 0-for-16 from 3-point range. It is the most 3-pointers without a made 3-pointer.

"That's how we are going to win," Garnett said of Boston's defensive effort. "We know offensively, on paper, that we should beat a lot of teams. We are going to win games because of defense, not because of our offense."

"It was a good start," added Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I thought the first five minutes of the game, there was so much energy in the building, and from both teams, I didn't think anyone was going to score, or run a play. After that, I thought we settled down."

Washington lost its second straight on the road.

"I'm not looking for any excuses," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "You know these are two games. Playing three games on the road last week (preseason), it's the nature of the business and we have plenty of rest, we just have to get things done."

The building roared with excitement from well before the opening tip as Boston Red Sox owners and players showed off their 2007 World Series trophy moments before the parquet was dedicated in honor of the late Red Auerbach.

"Tonight was rocking," Garnett said. "I couldn't even believe it. This place was rocking."

"The people were rocking," Allen added. "I think they've been anticipating this for a long time, the fans in Boston, just have something on the floor that they can rally behind all year."

Garnett and Allen, both acquired in summer trades with Minnesota and Seattle, respectively, struggled to find their range following the introductions.

Garnett got the scoring underway with two free throws with 10:13 to go in the first, but the opening quarter featured tight defense, with neither team able to find any offensive rhythm.

The Celtics made just 9-of-23 shots while Washington converted 8-of-21. Antawn Jamison hit a running jumper from six feet to give the visitors a 16-12 lead with 2:21 remaining in the first.

But Allen responded with a driving layup with 2:03 to go in the first for his first points in a Boston uniform. The bucket ignited a 9-2 run, which included Allen's first 3-pointer that gave Boston the lead for good, 19-18, with 56 seconds remaining in the first.

Boston, which led 21-18 after one, blew open the game in the second, outscoring Washington, 37-18, to take a 58-36 halftime lead. Pierce scored eight points in the first two minutes of the period and totalled 15 points and a trio of 3-pointers in the period.

"Coach put me in with the second unit, just to try and get a little spark," Pierce said. "I think we were a little anxious, a little nervous coming into game one. It was a tight game, but we did what we did. We executed, we played great defense and our teammates were able to find me, got into a little rhythm and just got going and we sort of fed off of that and it carried over for the rest of the game."

"It was like a college game, the energy was high and they had the trophy out there and the Red Sox were in the building," Washington's Caron Butler said. "It was a great atmosphere for basketball but at the same time in the second quarter we didn't bask in the same energy."

Pierce finished 10-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-6 from the 3-point range, with five rebounds and four assists.

The Celtics led by as many as 27, 69-42, midway through the third, led by 22 after three, and the Wizards could pull no closer than 15 in the final period.

"I'm a fan of the Red Sox, I'm also a fan of the Patriots," Pierce said. "We've got our own mark to make. You know those guys have definitely made their mark. They have won championships since I've been here. We have our own mark to make."

After guaranteeing victory against Boston, Gilbert Arenas was booed every time he touched the ball in the first half. He finished with 21 points on just 5-of-20 shooting.

"You know, you predict something and you know you are going to get killed on TV but at the end of the day, it was fun to watch, it was fun to play in an atmosphere like that. You never see a building like that," Arenas said.

"We just didn't execute as well as we should have and they got it going and after that, I think we played them evenly in the second half, and again the second quarter just did us in," Jordan said of his team.

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