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Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010

Garnett's late bank shot gives Celtics 9th straight win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo got it right when it mattered.

News photo
Road victory: Boston's Paul Pierce goes up for a shot between Philadelphia's Elton Brand (left) and Thaddeus Young on Thursday night. The Celtics won 102-101. AP PHOTO

Garnett banked in a shot off Rondo's alley-oop pass with 1.4 seconds left to give the Boston Celtics their ninth straight victory, 102-101 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.

"Rajon threw a perfect pass and I just banked it," Garnett said. "The crazy part about all that is that I messed that play up so many times in practice. It's only right that the basketball gods gave it to me tonight. It was a good win for us, a grind-out win. This team has been playing unbelievably."

After Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala drove for a hook shot with 6.6 seconds left to give Philadelphia a 101-100 lead, Rondo flipped a pass from just outside the 3-point line to Garnett for the winner.

"We worked on that last week," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We tried to run it early and had bad timing. It's just funny how things work out. It's a low-clock play. The ball's in the best passer's hands, and you have shooters on the floor. The whole sell was Paul Pierce and it worked."

Garnett then ended the game by intercepting the 76ers' inbounds pass.

Ray Allen led Eastern Conference-leading Boston with 23 points, Rondo had 19 points and 14 assists for his 11th double-double of the season, Glen Davis added 16 points, and Garnett finished with 14.

"It was a gutsy win," Pierce said. "It didn't seem like we had it all night. We couldn't get really consistent momentum in the game or get a consistent flow. But good teams find a way to win. There was good execution down the stretch."

Jodie Meeks led Philadelphia with 19 points, including going 4-for-4 from three-point range. Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young had 16 each, and Elton Brand added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Trailing 80-72 with 2:39 left in the third, the Celtics rallied with a 9-0 run — pulling ahead 81-80 lead on Rondo's 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left in the period to set up a tight fourth quarter that featured 14 lead changes.

Iguodala gave the Sixers two leads in the closing minute. Davis erased the first one with a 5-meter jumper before Garnett's winner.

A crowd of 17,948 — the 76ers' second-largest of the season — packed into the Wells Fargo Center, many of them decked out in green and white.

Neither team led by more than eight points.

"What a heartbreaking loss," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "They have so many different ways that they can attack on the offensive end. It was just a shame. It would have been an incredible win for us here tonight."

Mavericks 102, Nets 89

In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Shawn Marion added 18 points as the Mavericks stretched their winning streak to 11 games, spoiling former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson's return.

Johnson, fired Dallas after the 2007-08 season, is in his first season with the Nets.

Jason Terry and Caron Butler added 15 points each, and J.J. Barea had a career-high 13 assists to help the Mavericks extend the NBA's longest current winning streak.

Brook Lopez led New Jersey with 24 points. The Nets have lost six straight and 11 in a row on the road.

Blazers 97, Magic 83

In Portland, Andre Miller returned from a one-game suspension to score 22 points as the Trail Blazers beat Orlando to extend their winning streak to three games.

Miller rejoined the team after sitting out a victory Tuesday over Phoenix because of an NBA-imposed suspension. Miller was disciplined for making "excessive and unnecessary contact" with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin in a game Sunday. The suspension snapped Miller's consecutive games streak at 632, the longest among active NBA players. He hadn't missed a game since Jan. 24, 2003.

Dwight Howard had a season-high 39 points and added 15 rebounds in the loss, the Magic's third straight. The team had been hampered by a nasty stomach ailment that hit Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus, but all of them were healthy against the Blazers.

Elie busted for DUI

SACRAMENTO , Calif. (AP) An assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

The California Highway Patrol says 47-year-old Mario Elie was taken into custody at 1:15 a.m. Thursday in downtown Sacramento after an officer pulled him over for a broken taillight.



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