92 - 112 Final
  for this game

Garnett leads Celtics over Paul, Hornets

Mar 29, 2008 - 5:59 AM By Brian Devine PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics continued to flex their muscle against the Western Conference on Friday night.

Paul Pierce had 27 points and nine assists and Kevin Garnett added 21 and 13 rebounds as the Celtics defeated the Western Conference-leading New Orleans Hornets, 112-92, at TD Banknorth Garden.

"We beat two pretty good teams, I think it was a carry over from the two losses, it's nice just getting back home and wanting to play well especially these last (10) games we got left," Pierce said of handling Phoenix and New Orleans in the last two contests.

Trailing by four at the half, Boston outscored New Orleans, 32-15, in the third quarter to take command of the game.

"Great win for us on both ends," Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I thought our offensive execution - I mean when you shoot 60 percent, basically, or 59 percent and score 112 against a good defensive team, you're thrilled to death, and our second-half defense was absolutely terrific."

The Celtics shot a blistering 68.5 percent while holding New Orleans to just 4-of-12 shooting in the quarter and are now 25-5 against the Western Conference.

"Make our adjustments at halftime, come back with our adjustments made and pick it up a notch if we are not playing that well," Pierce of the third-quarter effort.

In a matchup of MVP candidates, Garnett had a stellar game for Boston while Chris Paul collected 22 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, which defeated the Celtics, 113-106, last Saturday.

"I thought from starting in practice (Thursday) we were all geared for the David West challenge, even though he is not one of these huge names," Garnett said. "But he is one of these players out here that if you look up he has 30 and 15."

The Hornets (49-22) weren't as successful in this one and sit just percentage points ahead of the San Antonio Spurs (50-23) for the top spot in the West.

The Houston Rockets (49-23) are one-half game back and the Los Angeles Lakers (49-24) are one behind.

At the tail end of that third quarter, Boston went on a 12-0 run which was capped by Rajon Rondo's 18-foot, step-back jumper against Paul. Rondo had six points during the run, which helped Boston improve to 31-6 at home and snap a three-game losing streak against New Orleans.

"That shot, I knew the shot clock was running down, and I didn't want to pick-and-roll and bring more people to the ball, so I kind of waved (teammates) off and just made a shot, it was great defense," Rondo said.

After trailing by six points after the first period the Hornets had an offensive explosion in the second quarter against the NBA's best defensive team, scoring 36 points.

"I thought we were kidding ourselves in the first half, they had 45 points in the paint out of the 56, we talked about protecting the paint in the second half, we just did a terrible job individually and from a team standpoint of guarding those guys," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

Bonzi Wells came off the bench and netted eight points during a 17-6 run which gave New Orleans its first lead of the game.

"I think they are a great team, we felt like this was a game we should have won," Paul said. "We felt like one got away from us in the third quarter, but that is our fault, you can't take anything away from them."

Peja Stojakovic led the way in the opening half with 13 points for the Hornets, who did not commit a turnover in the first 28 minutes.

"I just think we got tricked into their activity, I don't think they were any more or less aggressive than they were down in New Orleans, I just think they were expecting them to be more aggressive," said West, who scored just 14 points after scorching Boston for 37 in the previous meeting.

But with the loss, New Orleans now is 9-3 on the road against the Eastern Conference.