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Allen's 22 points help Celtics cruise past Bulls

Apr 2, 2008 - 4:34 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Ray Allen and the Boston Celtics continued their dominance over the Chicago Bulls.

Allen scored 22 points and added six assists as the Celtics posted a 106-92 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday.

Fellow All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scored 20 and 17, respectively, for Boston, which is one victory shy of reaching the 60-win mark for the first time since 1985-86 and is two wins away from clinching the best record in the NBA this season.

"You have to win games against the teams with sub-.500 records," Allen said. "If you let teams stick around and gain confidence, they will win games. When you are playing one of the worst teams in the league, you can't lose, you have to take care of business."

The Celtics, who were swept the previous two seasons by the Bulls, took out their revenge against Chicago, defeating the home team by an average margin of 18.3 points in four double-digit victories. The visitors also improved to to 32-1 against teams with losing records this season.

"Games you are supposed to win are just that, games on paper," Garnett said. "With the competitive nature in how guys play, every night you have to come in and establish early. You must play 48 minutes and earn a win."

Tyrus Thomas scored 24 points and Andres Nocioni added 19 off the bench for the Bulls (29-45), who have lost three of four to fall five games behind eighth-place Atlanta (34-40) with only eight games to play.

"I think we came out and played hard as team," Thomas said. "But it didn't help us in the playoff race. Right now, we are just trying to make strides."

The Celtics took a 79-73 lead into the fourth quarter building it to 11 on two free throws by Leon Powe with 7:12 left. The Bulls tried to make a run but turnovers led to quick baskets for Boston, which continued to stretch its lead. The Celtics' 14 3-pointers also helped to put the game away.

"Everyone was knocking the threes down tonight," Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said. "Ray Allen, James Posey, Paul Pierce, they were all getting good looks and knocking them down."

Boston jumped out quickly to a nine-point lead on a free throw by Pierce with 5:36 left in the first quarter. Chicago cut the deficit to four, 19-15, after Kirk Hinrich nailed a 3-pointer. The period ended with Boston holding a 22-17 lead.

"Our guys battled tonight," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "We came out early and played with energy and competed against a great basketball team."

After the Celtics opened their largest advantage at 30-19 on a reverse layup by Glen Davis, the Bulls went on a 14-4 spurt capped by a jumper by Chris Duhon that cut their deficit to 34-33 with 5:03 before intermission. However, a layup by Rondo put Boston up by seven at halftime.

"We didn't play great and we were sloppy with the ball," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Give Chicago credit, they played hard. We had too many turnovers (19)."

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