for this game

Pierce, Allen lead again as Celtics dispatch Knicks

Feb 14, 2008 - 4:47 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) - It's hard to imagine a team playing this well needing a break this badly.

Already thin up front, the Boston Celtics lost two more big men to injuries in the first half, but received 24 points from Paul Pierce and 21 from fellow All-Star Ray Allen to post a 111-103 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Knicks Coach Isiah Thomas was ejected late in the fourth quarter as New York fell for the ninth time in its last 10 games.

The Celtics won their final five games before the All-Star break and enter the intermission with a league-best 41-9 mark, but they continue to lose frontline players to injury.

All-Star Kevin Garnett sat out his ninth straight game with an abdominal strain and Kendrick Perkins missed his third consecutive contest with a shoulder injury.

In addition, starter Brian Scalabrine lasted less than three minutes before leaving with a strained right quadriceps and rookie Glen "Big Baby" Davis departed midway through the second with the same injury to his left side.

Center Scot Pollard was dressed but has not played in over a month due to an injured ankle, leaving Celtics coach Doc Rivers with just eight healthy players - and none taller than 6-8.

"It was dangerous for us, with all the injuries we've had," Rivers said. "To win, I'll take the win... with all the injuries and guys playing different spots, I don't know if you can ask much more. The problem with the injuries now is the minutes you have to play guys. So we're hoping when we get back from break, we've got healthy bodies."

Rivers' players have that same hope.

"We just got to get to the bigs in the weight room," Allen said jokingly of the injuries. "Those big guys, they keep falling down and we got to get them in shape. I don't think (the All-Star break) could have come at a better time now because so many guys need rest."

For a night, it didn't matter much for the Celtics.

As Davis was carried off, Boston led, 39-30, an advantage that would only grow. The Celtics opened up a 13-point halftime lead and began the second half on a 14-0 run, capped by a layup by Rajon Rondo to make it 65-40. They took their largest lead at 75-48 on a jumper by Pierce midway through the third.

Leon Powe scored 12 points in the third and Allen and Pierce chipped in seven apiece. Powe, essentially Boston's last true healthy frontliner, stopped an 8-0 Knicks run with a hook in the lane late in the frame, giving Boston an 85-70 advantage.

"We told him, 'Don't foul, don't move. We need you to stay on the floor,'" Rivers said of Powe. "We literally didn't have another big. We need a break. We absolutely need a break."

Allen, who replaced injured Washington forward Caron Butler on the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, chipped in eight rebounds for Boston. Powe and Rondo added 18 points apiece for the Celtics, who have won five straight in the series. Pierce went 10-of-10 from the free throw line and added seven assists and five rebounds.

The Knicks, who lost, 104-59, in their previous visit to TD Banknorth Garden, crawled to within seven moments after Thomas was ejected, but no closer. Jamal Crawford scored 26 points and Quentin Richardson added 20 for New York.

There was no pushing and shoving like that last time these two teams met - a 106-93 win in New York last month - but the much-maligned Thomas provided some fireworks. After picking up his second technical, he stared at Rivers with a smirk on his face, then shook Rivers' hand and embraced the Boston coach before departing to a chorus of boos.

"I don't know (what I did)," Thomas said of the ejection. "I think Doc and I both kind of looked at each other in disbelief. I am not really a guy that complains a lot. I got up off the bench on the first technical and said to the official that they are holding Jamal, they got both hands on him, and I gestured with both my hands ... and (referee Mark Lindsay) didn't like the fact I was complaining."

Thomas gave his team credit for fighting back just before and after his ejection. Converting 22 free throws in the second half helped.

The Knicks led, 24-21, after one. Allen buried a jumper to snap a 26-26 tie less than three minutes into the second period, igniting a 15-4 run, and Boston never was truly threatened thereafter.

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