for this game

Pierce ignites second-quarter run and Celtics hold on

Dec 27, 2007 - 6:52 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- In front of the first sellout crowd of the season, the Sacramento Kings put together two big runs, but it couldn't match the Boston Celtics' bombshell.

Paul Pierce sparked a decisive second-quarter run with 14 of his 16 points as the Celtics turned a four-point deficit into a 23-point halftime lead and an 89-69 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday at Arco Arena.

Ray Allen scored 17 points and Kevin Garnett added 14 and nine rebounds for Boston, which got its road trip off to a resounding start by stopping an 11-game losing streak here.

"First time I've won in Sacramento," Pierce said. "This is the only building I probably haven't won in, so I've got that off my back."

After opening the season with 22 wins in 25 games, the Celtics opened the road trip with the Kings, who dropped a 90-78 decision on December 12 in Boston and have been swept in the season series for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign.

"We knew they were going to come out and play hard," Pierce said. "They've been playing well at home. We've got a target on our back on the road. You can't expect to get any calls, teams are going to try to play physical and push us around. We kept our composure, especially late in the game, and were able to pull away with the win."

The Kings bridged the opening two quarters with an 11-0 run to take a 22-18 lead with 9:45 to play in the first half before the Celtics started executing.

Reserve center Scott Pollard started the half-ending 35-7 run with a follow shot before Allen converted a three-point play and Eddie House drained two consecutive shots from the arc to provide a 29-24 lead.

"(Sacramento) made a run, took the lead, and we didn't react," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I just kept the bench in. They lost the lead and I told them go get it back, and they did. Our bench is going to be vital on this trip."

Pierce then drained two 3-pointers, a jumper and a technical free throw over the next 2:17 to give Boston a 38-27 edge with 4:31 left. Allen and Pierce each knocked down a shot from the arc, and Garnett hit a pair of jumpers, helping Boston end the period on a 15-2 run.

"We picked up our intensity on the defensive end and it created offensive opportunities," Pierce said. "We got out on the break, knocked down shots and got hot. We knew Sacramento was going to make a run, especially at home. We countered their runs and built the lead."

Sacramento shot 34 percent (11-of-34) in the half, missed all six 3-point attempts, turned over the ball 12 times and yielded 10 offensive rebounds.

Boston returned the favor in the third, shooting just 4-of-16 and committing nine turnovers. Sacramento scored the first 10 points of the half, got seven points from Brad Miller and six from Mikki Moore to pull within 66-56 after three periods.

"In the second quarter, we turned the ball over a lot," said Kings swingman John Salmons. "We came out after halftime with a lot of pride. We weren't going to let them come into our building and beat us like they were doing. We picked up our defense, took care of the ball better, and we shrunk the lead a little bit."

The Kings closed within 66-61 when they opened the fourth with a 3-pointer by Francisco Garcia and a follow by Ron Artest before House and Posey drained 3-pointers, and fellow reserve Tony Allen converted a nifty lefthanded layup through traffic to push the lead to 74-61 with 8:50 left.

Boston cruised thereafter.

House and Posey combined for 20 points for Boston, which drained 11-of-22 shots from the arc.

"In Boston (two weeks ago), they came out and played well on both ends," Posey said. Tonight we wanted to come out and be very aggressive and set the tone early. We did it on both ends."

Artest scored 15 points and Salmons added 13 for the Kings, who scored a season low 69 points.

"They're a great basketball team and they came in here and took care of business," said Kings coach Reggie Theus. "We can try to analyze this all you want but we did not play well, they played well, and we're not good enough to sustain (a rally) like that."

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