for this game

Rondo, Garnett help Celtics steamroll Pistons

Nov 21, 2008 - 5:27 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics still have a hold on the Detroit Pistons.

Rajon Rondo led a balanced attack with 18 points while Kevin Garnett came back from his one-game suspension to add 15 as the Celtics cruised past the Pistons, 98-80, on Thursday.

Tony Allen netted 13 for the Celtics (11-2), who have easily won both meetings this season between the teams that battled for the Eastern Conference championship in the spring. In addition to winning the playoff matchup on their way to the NBA title, Boston has won four of the last five regular-season meetings between the Eastern powers.

"Great win," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Guys were terrific. One of our best efforts of the year on both ends of the floor. I just thought we had great focus tonight, played with a great purpose on both ends. It was great. It was good to see."

Allen Iverson scored 16 while Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 13 to pace the Pistons (8-4), who looked tired in the second half, one night after coming from behind to beat Cleveland on its homecourt.

"You're always going to have (additional swagger after winning a championship)," Wallace said. "It doesn't matter who it is, whenever you win that, you're going come in to that next season with a swagger out of this world. We had it. Miami had it in the year that they won it. Teams have it. You've got to. If you don't, then something's wrong."

For the second time in 11 days, Boston showed it was clearly the better team. The Celtics beat Detroit, 88-76, on November 9 at Auburn Hills.

"We had a tough schedule, but that's no excuse," said Detroit's Richard Hamilton, who scored 12 points.

"They've convincingly beaten us two times, once home and once here. So we've got to be a lot better. Anytime you play against tough teams, all the little stuff that you don't do against the bad teams, you can't get away with playing against the good teams. So this tells us we've got a lot of work to do."

Early on, the Pistons used the sharp shooting of Iverson to race out to a 13-2 lead. The superstar drained a long 3-pointer for the first points of the game. His reverse layup with 8:15 remaining in the first gave him seven early points and put Detroit up, 13-2.

"They are very good," Pistons coach Michael Curry said. "They're very good defensively, not just against us but they defended everyone else in the league. They're really good on the strong side. Like I said, you have to be able to get to the weak side and execute offensively on the weak side and play smashmouth basketball."

But the Celtics went on a 12-1 run to tie the game at 14-14 on Kendrick Perkins' turnaround jumper with 4:41 remaining in the opening quarter.

"The overall effort was there," said Garnett, who will play against his former Minnesota teammates on Friday. "This is a huge game for us. This is probably one of the better teams, not only in the Eastern Conference, but in our league. It's a team we might see later on, so the more the merrier. We watched them play Cleveland last night and we knew that we had to bring it.

Boston grabbed control by firing away from beyond the arc, draining five of its seven 3-point attempts, including two straight by Eddie House off the bench.

With the game tied, 21-21, to begin the second, the Celtics went on a 19-6 spurt to open a 40-27 lead on Garnett's second free throw with 5:13 to go in the quarter.

The Celtics took a 49-40 lead to the locker room when Paul Pierce was fouled on a drive to the basket. He connected on two free throws with two-tenths of a seconds remaining.

Rondo and Garnett took over in the third, scoring 17 of Boston's 28 points as the Celtics extended their lead to 77-57 heading into the fourth.

"For the most part, we were active, we were talkative, we had energy and I don't think we looked back," Garnett added. "We did a real good job being consistent, both first group and second group. Second group came in very aggressive, which is what we're going to need consistently throughout the year to be the team that we want to be. I thought defensively we set a tone in the third quarter and stayed with it and never looked back after that."

Boston coasted in the fourth, building the lead up to 29 at one point, 92-63 while playing mostly reserves as it improved to 7-1 at home, including 7-0 against Eastern Conference teams.

"We're still trying to find our identity, and it's still early in the season," Hamilton said. "Guys are still trying to find their niche, trying to find what we are and what we're going to be about this season. They played well tonight. They beat us convincingly. Anytime you lose to a team two times by over 20, that's absolutely bananas because we don't play like that."

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