for this game

Pierce, Celtics handle Hornets; Ray Allen injured

Feb 12, 2009 - 5:11 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- With Ray Allen sidelined for the Boston Celtics, the "Big Three" inducted some charter members to their exclusive club.

Paul Pierce scored 30 points and Kevin Garnett added 14 and 10 rebounds as the Celtics finally emerged victorious against a Western Conference power, topping the New Orleans Hornets, 89-77, on Wednesday.

But it was Leon Powe and Eddie House that sparked the Celtics, combining for 23 points off the bench while Allen missed much of the game after leaving in the second quarter with a hyperextended left thumb.

"I tried to catch the ball and I couldn't because it was jammed all the way down," Allen said.

"As I was running, I started yanking on it and tried to hold it in. I tried to catch the ball but I couldn't hold onto the ball any more. ... I'm going to try and play tomorrow. I'll get out there and work out and see how I feel."

Chris Paul, who was a game-time decision with a groin injury, had just 13 points and five assists for New Orleans, which also played without Tyson Chandler (left ankle). The center has missed the last 12 games with the injury.

"I wanted to make sure he didn't get too many minutes tonight," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "It always scares me when I see him on the bench, and they're putting an ice pack on that area that he hurt."

The battered Hornets allowed the Celtics to bounce back after losing two of three games against the West's elite.

"Last year, we were phenomenal against the West, and of late we're struggled," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "It's good to beat a quality team. They were down a little bit without Chandler, but that was a big win for us."

Boston, which had suffered late-game home losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs within the last week, has won eight straight on the road. It will look for another win away from home when it takes on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday before the All-Star break.

"I guess we learned from our mistakes," Pierce said. "It's all about execution, especially in the fourth quarter. We defended at a higher level, and those are the two things we've got to do, especially on the road and the first game of a road trip."

The Hornets cut their deficit to 71-67 on Devin Brown's jumper with 9:37 left in the fourth. But the Celtics answered with a decisive run, which was capped by House's consecutive threes to move the lead to 12 and effectively seal the win.

House hit the lone two shots from the arc for Boston, which missed its other 12 from long distance. According to Pierce, House's success had much to do with penetration by Rajon Rondo, who collected six points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

"We went to a pick-and-roll to spread out our shooters and gave Rondo room to create," Pierce said. "He's as tough as anybody to guard in the NBA from getting into the lane. We know we can get him into the lane and get our shooters wide open.

"He just constantly did that in the fourth quarter and controlled the game."

The Hornets pulled within eight on Rasual Butler's three with 6:18 remaining, but the Celtics came out with renewed energy after a timeout.

Boston received perhaps the play of the game from Powe, who took a pass from Pierce and threw down a thunder dunk that cleared out New Orleans' frontline. Garnett followed with a 17-foot jumper to push the lead to 12 on Boston's next possession.

After Paul converted a layup, Pierce and Powe each added a jumper to make it 89-75 with 1:47 left to force a timeout by New Orleans.

David West had 15 points and eight rebounds and Hilton Armstrong had 14 and five for the Hornets, who committed 18 turnovers and shot just 2-of-11 from long distance.

Most likely to the dismay of New Orleans coach Bryon Scott, Paul's appearance in this game forces him by rule to play in Sunday's All-Star Game - something he has said he wants to do.

According to Rivers, injuries are something that aren't just a problem in New Orleans.

"It's league-wide," the coach said. "Every team in the NBA has injuries right now, and it's a battle of the benches, and every night somebody else has to step up all over the league. Tonight it was our turn."