Allen strong as Celtics trounce 76ersNov 29, 2008 - 4:17 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
BOSTON (Ticker) -- The new-look Philadelphia 76ers were no match for the defending champion Boston Celtics.
A torrid Ray Allen caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 15 of his game-high 23 points to lead the Celtics over the 76ers, 102-78, on Friday.
Kevin Garnett added 16 for the Celtics, who won their seventh straight and improved to 15-2 overall and 9-1 at home.
Allen found his touch in third, at one point draining three consecutive 3-pointers and scoring 11 straight points as the Celtics built their lead to 61-40 with 4:30 remaining.
Allen was the beneficiary of another strong game by point guard Rajon Rondo, who dished out a game-high 12 assists.
"It's funny," Allen said, "because when the game was over I told (Rondo) 'When you play like that, we are a beast to contend with.' And I told him 'I feed off you.'
"Whenever he pushes the ball like that in transition, I just try to get ahead and play along with what he's doing because he's putting so much pressure on the defense. With that, I'm just trying to find a spot and keep moving because that's tough to guard and it's so unpredictable."
Garnett sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy on an alley-oop dunk late in the third quarter. He was fouled and made the free throw to put Boston ahead, 73-47 after three.
"We're just finding our rhythm right now," Garnett said. "Our defense is definitely ahead of our offense. That last year's defense was beautiful to watch. Hopefully we can get back to that."
The huge advantage earned the Boston starters a well-deserved rest for the fourth quarter, with only Allen logging over 30 minutes in the contest.
"We're setting better picks for him," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of Allen's increased offensive output. "We realize that to get Ray shots we have to get him open, and I think our guys have done a better job. We have more sets for him, obviously, this year, as well.
"And it's nice being able to go to you know, if Paul (Pierce)'s playing well or not playing well or Kevin (Garnett), you've got three options now that have enough in our offensive system that you can always call one of the three's number and hope you get something good out of him."
Elton Brand was signed to a six-year, $80 million contract in the offseason to bolster Philadelphia's chances of unseating Boston in the Atlantic Division.
Brand did not disappoint against Boston, scoring 18 and hauling in eight rebounds, but he had little in the way of a supporting cast as Lou Williams netted 15 and Andre Miller added 12 for the 76ers (7-9), who lost their third straight.
"They showed why they were World Champions last year," Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Their defense stifled us. They took us out of every set we had. They just proved the reason why they are the number one defensive team in the league is they deny pressure.
"For the way the team, the way they play, Garnett sets their tone. Then of course the way Ray Allen was making shots like that, he's a tough guard 'cause you can switch a one out there, then it's a big guard and they post the ball. But it starts with defense out there."
When Garnett hit a 21-foot jumper with 8:03 remaining in the first quarter, the Celtics grabbed a 6-4 lead. They would remain in control the rest of the way.
Kendrick Perkins had eight of Boston's 22 points in the first quarter while Philadelphia made just 7-of-19 shots and trailed, 22-16, after the first 12 minutes.
"They came out and hit us first," Miller said. "We fought for a second, and then in the second quarter they just built from there."
While Boston duplicated its 9-for-19 shooting in the second quarter, the 76ers went even colder, making just five field goals and scoring 12 points to trail, 46-28, at the break.
"We weren't making shots and they were," 76ers forward Thaddeus Young said. "They are a good defensive team and they pretty much played good 'D' the whole night. They stayed up into us and got us out of our offense a bit."
After allowing an average of 107 points during their last two games - both wins - the Celtics clamped down on defense against the Sixers, limiting them to 41 percent (32-of-77) shooting and forcing 15 turnovers.
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