for this game

Allen, Pierce help Celtics crush Nuggets

Feb 24, 2009 - 6:41 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- No Kevin Garnett, no problem again for the Boston Celtics.

Ray Allen led the way with 26 points and the Celtics used a dominating defensive effort to hand the Denver Nuggets an embarrassing, 114-76, loss on Monday.

Paul Pierce added 22 points and Rajon Rondo collected 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Boston, which held the Nuggets to 35 percent (25-of-72) shooting - including 3-of-21 from beyond the arc.

"Rondo was great," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "At one point, he was our best rebounder. He had a ton of offensive rebounds early, which breaks our rules because we want our guards to get back.

"But he's so good at it, and as long as he doesn't get burned, we allow him to do it."

The Celtics were supposed to struggle when All-Star Kevin Garnett went down with a knee injury on Thursday, but after a dominating 128-108 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and Monday's stellar effort, Boston doesn't appear to be missing its emotional leader.

Brian Scalabrine started in Garnett's place and Leon Powe and Glen Davis all saw time at power forward.

"It was really important," Rivers said of the trio's solid play. "Glen started it out. He has the ability to stretch the floor. He's just a basketball player that knows how to make plays. Leon gave us a low post game which we needed because we wanted to get to the foul line as much as possible, because that wouldn't allow them to run and allows you to set your defense up."

"(Davis and Powe) have to step up and do all the things that Kevin is preaching to them through out the last two years and now they can step up and fill that role," Allen said. "We are a different team without him."

Allen and Pierce set the tone early in the first quarter against Denver, combining to drain three 3-pointers as the Celtics raced out to a 13-6 lead. They would stretch it to 25-11 on Rondo's driving layup and led 29-20 after the first.

"I think we moved the ball early," Allen said. "Defensively, we made them uncomfortable and executed early."

The second quarter was more of the same, with Allen leading the way with eight points in the quarter and 16 in the first half to help Boston to a 60-37 lead at the break. Rondo and Pierce finished with 12 points apiece in the opening half.

"I thought it was a physical game early," Rivers said. "We intended to come out and play great defense and that's what we did. Our offense came off our defense tonight."

Denver seemed completely out of sorts the entire game, often eschewing offensive sets in favor of one-on-one opportunities and appearing thoroughly frustrated with the Celtics' defense.

"Tonight, we caught a team that was angry and wanted to beat us, wanted to embarrass us," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "They were more physical than us, they went after us pretty good."

Boston continued to increase its lead after the break and left most of the fourth quarter to the reserves. Powe scored a career-high 16 points and Davis and Eddie House chipped in eight points off the bench.

The Celtics forced 17 turnovers and knocked down 14-of-23 3-pointers in improving to 4-1 on their six-game road trip, which wraps up against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

The only downside in the game was an injury to Scalabrine, who left the game with a cervical strain after taking a hard foul from Johan Petro in the first half. Scalabrine, who has started the past two games in place of Garnett, did not return.

Rivers said after the game that Scalabrine did not return to the game for precautionary reasons and is not seriously hurt.

J.R. Smith led with 19 points and Carmelo Anthony added 18 for the Nuggets.

"That was one of those nights," said Denver guard Chauncey Billups, who finished with three points on 1-of-8 shooting and four turnovers.

"It was rough. You've got to give them a lot of credit, they came in focused and ready."