for this game

Pierce leads Celtics over SuperSonics

Dec 28, 2007 - 7:30 AM By Paul Lowenberg PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- It may have been Ray Allen's homecoming, but it was Paul Pierce who stole the show.

Pierce poured in a season-high 37 points and Kevin Garnett hauled down 14 rebounds to go with his 23 points as the Boston Celtics won their third consecutive game, 104-96, over the Seattle SuperSonics Thursday night.

Allen returned to Seattle for the first time since he was traded to the Celtics last summer and was welcomed with a loud standing ovation by the sellout crowd. The All-Star guard finished the night with just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, but nailed a pair of 3-pointers at key moments to keep the Celtics from losing momentum.

"It was great," Allen said of his return to the building where he spent the last four years as a Sonic. "It stirred up a lot of memories. But, everything I got was tough. They know what I do and they tried to take away everything that I did."

The win gives Boston 24 victories this season - matching the team's total from the 2006-07 campaign.

"The second half was terrific," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "The first half the ball stopped the entire half. We danced with the ball. The second half we got in a defensive rhythm and then we got in a great offensive rhythm. Eddie House and Pose (James Posey) gave us just a great offensive lift."

After a miserable first half that saw him shoot just 2-of-11 from the floor, Pierce caught fire in the third quarter, tallying 13 points and draining three 3-pointers. Back to back 3-pointers by Allen and Pierce midway through the quarter broke a 53-53 deadlock with 6:52 left in the frame that they never relinquished.

"I made shots," Pierce laughed when asked the difference between the first half and the second half. "I was aggressive the whole game. I thought I missed some shots I normally make."

With Boston clinging to a 70-67 lead at the beginning of the final quarter, Eddie House came off the bench and scored seven of his 13 points to spark a 21-10 run. Pierce added nine points during the spurt that opened up a 91-77 bulge, putting the game away with 6:26 left to play.

"We contested really well for three quarters," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "But in the fourth our contest was the worst by far. We gave up 24, 23, and 23 to a really good offensive team, and then we gave up a 34 points fourth quarter. We lost touch with Paul (Pierce). Primarily, we lost touch with Eddie (House). He's a great player off the bench."

A pair of ex-Celtics kept the Sonics in the game through the opening half which saw the Celtics enter the intermission with a 47-46 advantage.

Wally Szczerbiak had 12 points in the second period and Delonte West, who had been sidelined with plantar facisiitis in his right foot for nine games before returning to action Christmas day, came off the bench late in the first quarter to contribute 11 points. Both Szczerbiak and West went to Seattle in the draft-day trade in June that brought Allen to Boston.

Seattle held the Celtics to 16-of-45 shooting in the first half, but failed to pull away.

Boston turned the ball over only four times in the contest and made its way to the free-throw line 36 times - cashing in on 27 attempts.

Rookie Kevin Durant led the Sonics with 25 points on 10-of-23 shooting and West added 19 and eight assists off the bench.