for this game

Big Three keeps Celtics undefeated

Nov 11, 2007 - 4:29 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Rallying around their heavy-hearted coach, the Boston Celtics' Big Three was bigger than the New Jersey Nets'.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 73 points, 27 rebounds and 15 assists as the Celtics remained unbeaten through five games with a 112-101 victory over the Nets in an early battle of the favorites in the Atlantic Division.

The Celtics were inspired when Doc Rivers, who attended the funeral of his father earlier in the day in Illinois, surprisingly showed up to coach the contest at the urging of his mother.

"I was going to stay at home, but my mom said, 'Go to the game, that's what your dad would want,'" said Rivers, who arrived at the Izod Center roughly 75 minutes prior to tipoff and surprised his players. "I am going back to Chicago now.

"I just did it because my mom wanted me to do it. I needed this win."

Richard Jefferson scored 28 points and Vince Carter and Jason Kidd added 17 for the Nets, who lost for the second time in six games to open the season.

Carter sprained his right ankle with 1:19 left in the third quarter, when he landed on Pierce's left foot following a dunk. Carter limped off under assistance and went directly to the locker room and did not return. X-rays proved negative.

"I have no idea (about a timetable for returning)," Carter said. "It's very sore. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

"There's no way Vince could have prevented that after dunking the ball," Kidd said. "This isn't anything new to us, injuries. We just hope Vince isn't out a long time."

A free throw by Pierce with 5:10 left in the second quarter gave Boston the lead for good, 42-41. But it was Pierce's 26-foot 3-pointer with 3:51 left in the third quarter that capped a 20-3 run that bridged the halves and blew open the game, giving the Celtics a 75-55 bulge.

Pierce finished with 28 points - all after the first period. Allen added 27 points, 10 rebounds and four 3-pointers and Garnett 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

"We did not know if Doc was going to be here," Pierce said. "He could easily have not come."

"It definitely gave us a bit of energy when we saw him," Garnett said. "Like little kids."

Carter's layup pulled the Nets within 57-52 in the final minute of the first half, but Garnett's 16-foot turnaround jumper at the buzzer kicked off the decisive run. Pierce had 10 points in the burst, while Allen added four.

New Jersey pulled within 105-97 with 80 seconds left, but Kidd missed a layup and Pierce knocked down two free throws to ice it.

Kidd finished with 12 assists and six rebounds for the Nets, who started hot but failed to open a big lead against a team playing on the road for the second straight night.

"Back-to-back versus a team that didn't play last night, and we grinded out the win," Rivers said. "I'll take that every night."

The Nets' Big Three totaled each of the team's 27 first-quarter points, with Jefferson's 13 leading the way. Allen had 12 points and Garnett eight in the opening quarter for the Celtics, who stayed within a point despite allowing the Nets to make 10 of their first 14 shots.

Boston held a 49-34 rebounding advantage, including 12-6 on the offensive glass. Rookie Glen Davis had eight boards - six offensive - and six points.

"Glen Davis changed the game," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You have to give him credit, because he did the same thing in the exhibition games. The one thing the Celtics have not done much prior to this game was get offensive rebounds."

"There are guys that are having an impact on the game, so it's not three of them versus three of us," Jefferson said. "There are guys all across the board that are having an impact."

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