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Pierce, Garnett lead as Celtics pound Nets

Jan 15, 2009 - 5:42 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce scored 22 points and Kevin Garnett added 20 as the Boston Celtics pulled off their most dominating win in weeks, 118-86, over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday.

Rajon Rondo collected 11 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds and Ray Allen added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Celtics, who have won three in a row since suffering through a season-high, four-game losing streak.

"It's not back, but it wasn't back when we were winning," Boston coach Doc Rivers said of the Celtics' rhythm.

"We want to get to a level where we think, when the playoffs start, that we can win. So that's what we work on every night, and you can definitely see signs of us trending in the right direction."

Boston established control early, leading 30-23 after the first quarter and 51-41 at the half.

The defending NBA champions broke it open in the third quarter, outscoring the Nets, 37-19, behind 18 points from Pierce. The reigning Finals MVP hit five 3-pointers in the period.

"He had great looks," Rivers said of Pierce. "It's tough because you tell them when they're wide open to take threes, him and Ray (Allen) especially and Eddie (House). There was almost a line, though, you were glad they were going in because it was almost too many threes for our group and not enough posts. But they were open and we took them and made them."

The Celtics began the third on a 13-3 run and had increased the lead to 88-60 by the end of the quarter.

"I just took advantage of the ball movement," Pierce said. "When we swung the ball, (it) was wide open and I stayed aggressive. I thought I was a little tentative in the first half.

"Turn the ball around, I was looking for the shots and the shots were there, so once we moved the ball around and the shots were there I was just taking what the defense gave me."

None of the starters saw action in the fourth quarter but the bench kept the pressure on, running the lead up to 112-79 on Patrick O'Bryant's shot with 3:20 remaining.

"Great, great. Obviously, really needed it," Rivers said. "Getting a lot of our guys rest, so that was really good. Happy with a lot of things, obviously."

A big point of concern during the last three weeks, the bench stepped up with 44 points against New Jersey, with Glen Davis notching 12 and House pouring in 10 to lead the way.

"Well, it was a good night to get our rhythm back," House said. "Games like this, you're out there and the game's pretty much in hand, you wanna play the game and not the score and just work on stuff that we need to be good at.

"Just running our offense and getting stops defensively, knowing our assignments defensively. So, you take that time for preparation time, and it's good for us."

The Celtics shot 56 percent (44-of-78) from the floor, including 12-of-22 from beyond the arc, and 18-of-22 from the free-throw line. It was their biggest margin of victory since a 108-63 win at Sacramento on December 28.

Boston recorded 28 assists and outrebounded the Nets, 45-32.

Devin Harris scored 17 points for New Jersey, which committed 19 turnovers and shot just 39 percent (26-of-67) from the floor.

"Well, obviously, they played extremely well," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "They kicked us real good. (It was a) 10-point game at half and, in the third quarter, they just knocked us down.

"We gave up a high volume of layups, our turnover-to-assist ratio was very disappointing. I thought Rondo's all-around play ... we just didn't have enough guys that competed at the same level as they did. That's why they're champs. But I think we're definitely capable of putting forth a better effort and performance than we did tonight."

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