for this game

Allen, Celtics use huge first half to crush Mavericks

Jan 25, 2009 - 10:49 PM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics are getting back in the habit of blowing out their competition and ruling the roost in the Eastern Conference. The Dallas Mavericks were the latest victim.

Ray Allen scored 20 of his 23 points in a lopsided first half Sunday as the Celtics cruised to a 124-100 victory over the Mavericks.

Kevin Garnett and reserve Eddie House each scored 23 points for Boston, which used a 74-point first half to claim its eighth straight victory.

House hit 7-of-11 from beyond the arc for Boston, which made 13 of its first 18 3-point attempts. Boston improved to an Eastern-Conference best 37-9.

The hot streak has made the Celtics' recent 2-7 slide seem like a distant memory while recalling visions of their franchise-record 19-game winning streak in December.

"Over the last couple games we started games with the mind set of we're now back on track," Allen said. "We are moving the ball as freely as I think we've been moving it, in the two years I've been here. We're making plays for each other."

"I just think we're playing together," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

Garnett believes the Celtics are playing at an even higher level than during their remarkable winning streak of several weeks ago.

"We may not score a lot of points, but we got to make sure we get stops and I think that's the difference," Garnett said. "So, yes we are better than how we were playing during the last winning streak we had."

Jason Terry scored 27 off the bench for Dallas, which finished its four-game road trip at 2-2.

The Celtics came out on fire in the first quarter, making 16 of their first 24 shots. The Mavericks led early by as many as three, and were within one at 15-14, when Antoine Wright hit a layup with 4:44 remaining in the opening quarter.

But Garnett's layup 19 seconds later started a 12-0 run that made it 27-14, and the rout was on.

Boston led, 38-23, after the first and used another huge run in the second quarter to put the game away. After Dirk Nowitzki's layup cut the deficit to 43-31, Allen drained a jumper with 9:10 remaining to begin a 15-0 Boston spurt.

"They're a great team," said Mavericks guard Jason Kidd, who had six points, five assists and seven rebounds. "They try to knock you out in the first quarter. I felt we were doing pretty good until the last few minutes when we let it get away from us."

The Celtics expanded their lead to 31 several times during a torrid second quarter in which they made 14-of-22 shots.

Dallas, like Phoenix on Monday night in Boston, offered no resistance on defense. The Mavericks allowed Boston to shoot 65 percent in the first half (30-of-46), and were humiliated by halftime, trailing 74-47.

"I thought we were really looking forward to the game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Boston was great and we need to be better. We haven't come across a team that plays at this level defensively."

As was the case on Monday, Boston cruised through the third quarter, leading by as many as 35 three times to take a 103-78 advantage after three periods. The big lead again allowed Rivers to rest his starters for the entire fourth quarter.

Rajon Rondo added 13 points, 11 assists and fell three rebounds shy of his second career triple-double for Boston, which shot 53 percent (50-of-93).

"He's grown as a player," Kidd said of his counterpart. "He's got great teammates and veteran guys that teach him, he's got a great coach. So he's having one of those All-Star type of years. His numbers probably would have been better if they had to play the fourth quarter."