Celtics remain undefeated behind 'Big Three'Nov 10, 2007 - 4:34 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- The new-look Boston Celtics are imposing their will on the rest of the NBA.
Kevin Garnett scored 27 points and pulled down 19 rebounds and Paul Pierce added 23 points to lead the Celtics to their fourth consecutive win to start the season, 106-83, over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
Ray Allen battled through early foul trouble to add 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Eddie House had his best game of the season for the Celtics, who are dominating opponents by an average of 18 points per game through the first four games of the season.
"It wasn't pretty, we had to grind it out, we knew they were a tough team, we knew it wasn't going to be easy," Pierce said.
While Pierce provided his usual offensive brilliance, Boston leaned on the contributions of Garnett and House, who finished with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from the arc, in relief of Allen.
"He was huge man, I think that he was the sparkplug that got us going at the beginning of things when things weren't going well," Pierce said of House's play off the bench.
"Eddie House was terrific, he needed it tonight and he played with great energy," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.
After finishing with the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season, the Celtics blew up their roster and brought in the All-Star talent of Garnett and Allen and the outside scoring punch of House.
Those moves are paying immediate dividends.
"Just working hard man, just trying to mesh and trying to be more connected on defense," Garnett said. "Y'all don't know how hard we work on our defense, talking to each other and being one when we are out there. We know we're not flawless but we are a group that works hard."
The "Big Three" of Garnett, Piece and Allen combined to shoot 26-of-40 from the floor and score 64 points.
"So far so good, 4-0," Rivers said. "Obviously, not what we're playing for right now, we are just trying to keep getting better and better."
Garnett was the first one to take charge on Friday, pouring in 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the first quarter as Boston built up a 24-19 lead at the end of the period.
Atlanta fought back to grab a 27-26 lead on Joe Johnson's layup with 8:20 remaining in the second, but House and Allen scored four points each to key a 15-6 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes to push the lead back to 41-33.
"I think you get so inclined for us to go out there and deliver a knockout punch early in the game and it is easy to get used to that, but this is the NBA and those are NBA players in that locker room," Allen said. "We really haven't established anything as far as being dominant as a team that people fear in this league, so every game is a reputation game for us."
House's jumper at the end of the half sent the Celtics into the locker room with a 55-41 advantage. Boston shot 64 percent (21-of-33) in the first half and pulled down 24 boards.
"Once we started pounding the ball inside to Ticket (Garnett) and to Paul we started to get a lot of easy looks, everything we wanted and we tightened up on the defense and once we tightened that up the offense seemed to just roll," House said.
The Hawks hung tough in the third, pulling as close as 67-59 on Marvin Williams' dunk with 2:42 remaining, but the Celtics responded with a 7-0 run before Williams' tip shot ended the quarter at 74-61 in favor of the home team.
"Their defense picked up and we went the other way," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We hadn't done that in a long time, since last season. I thought it was a great test for our team.
"Hopefully, the next time we see the Celtics we'll be a little more prepared and ready to go because we only played a quarter and a half tonight."
Boston turned the contest into a blowout in the final quarter as House scored eight points in the period and Garnett added six before yielding to the end of the bench.
"We tried to make a late run but we couldn't get stops on defense and when you can't get stops on defense, unless you outscore somebody, you are not going to have a chance to win," Atlanta forward Al Horford said.
The lone piece of bad news for the Celtics came with 5:51 left in the game when forward Brain Scalabrine got hit with a stray elbow and fell hard to the floor. He was taken to the locker room where it was announced that he had a concussion.
"Scal won't play (Saturday); I doubt it, not with the way he looked when he left," Rivers said.
Atlanta was paced by 16 points a piece from Johnson and rookie Al Horford.
"They handed it to us, that's it," Johnson said. "It's a learning experience, what else can I say."
BOSTON 106 FINAL
Nov 9 9:56 PM
BOSTON 74 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 9 9:22 PM
BOSTON 55 HALFTIME
Nov 9 8:41 PM
END 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
ATLANTA 24 24
BOSTON 19 19 END 1ST QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 1ST QUARTER
ATL - AL HORFORD 9, JOE JOHNSON 2, JOSH SMITH
BOS - KEVIN GARNETT 13, PAUL PIERCE 8, RAY
Nov 9 8:04 PM
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