for this game

Pierce leads as Celtics capture 14th straight win

Dec 13, 2008 - 5:07 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- After the Boston Celtics showed old friend James Posey how much they loved him, they reminded everyone how little they need him.

Paul Pierce scored 13 of his 28 points in the third quarter as the Celtics shook off a sluggish first half to post a 94-82 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.

Kevin Garnett chipped in 19 points for Boston (22-2), which extended the best start in franchise history and ran its winning streak to 14 games for the first time since the 1985-86 season.

Garnett said he wasn't even aware of the winning streak and Pierce was more impressed with the team's ability to show up after playing in Washington the night before.

"Coming from Washington, getting in late, going to bed at 3:30 or 4:00, waking up and playing a game against one of the best MVP candidates in Chris Paul," Pierce said. "This team is mentally tough. We've shown it, we proved it and we don't make excuses."

Kendrick Perkins had nine points - all in the second half - and 13 rebounds and Eddie House added nine big points off the bench for Boston, which survived a season-low 14 assists.

Posey, the Celtics' top reserve during their championship run last season, scored seven points in his return to TD Banknorth Garden.

Prior to the game, he was given his championship ring and a warm welcome from fans and the entire Boston organization, which surrounded him at halfcourt.

While appreciative of the reaction for his one glorious season with the Celtics, Posey admitted the current Boston squad has a leg up on the one he played with.

"For the most part last year we learned on the fly, but now they already know what to do," Posey said. "They know how to play the game. The record speaks for itself."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers told the crowd how key Posey was to the team's success in his one season with the team before he signed a four-year deal with New Orleans in the offseason.

Posey talked about the confidence Rivers gave him. Rivers wasn't so sentimental, joking about about how tough it was to coach against the defensive-minded Posey.

"Didn't like it," Rivers said of coaching against Posey. "You know, it's funny, last year I loved what he did, setting flops, charges, holding, getting away with hitting on the arm.

"Today, I think I complained about Posey the entire game. He's a pain in the butt, he really is, and now I know why I loved him on my team."

While Rivers' team has not missed a beat with Posey, the first half was not a good indication.

New Orleans scored 21 points off 11 turnovers in the first 24 minutes to take a one-point lead into the break. Six of the turnovers came in a sloppy stretch of the first that allowed the Hornets to put together a 13-2 run.

Boston did not have one single giveaway in the third, however, and took charge on the strength of Pierce.

The Celtics' captain assisted on a Perkins basket early in the third that gave Boston the lead for good and later scored six straight points as the Celtics took their first double-digit lead of the game at 56-46.

Pierce had 10 points and two assists in a 22-10 run overall.

"We just didn't do a good job of reacting to Paul when he was in an aggressive mindset," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

Pierce opened the fourth quarter with a jumper to make it 71-64 and assisted on a pair of 3-pointers by House that highlighted a 10-3 burst. House's third 3-pointer of the night made it 82-69 with 7:43 left.

Pierce also had six points and six assists in over 43 minutes, the fourth-most minutes he has played in a game this season.

"Paul was phenomenal tonight," Rivers said.

The Hornets never got closer than seven thereafter as their three-game winning streak came to an end.

David West scored 23 points and Chris Paul finished with 20 and 14 assists for New Orleans (12-7), which was without leading rebounder Tyson Chandler, sidelined with a sore neck.

The Celtics scored 30 points in the paint and shot 26 free throws in the second half alone, when Chandler's absence was notable.

"Yeah, we missed him big time tonight," Scott said. "Just his athleticism, his energy."

Hornets sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic was limited to a season-low two points on 1-of-6 shooting. He failed to make a 3-pointer for the first time since January 13, 2008, a span of 64 games.