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Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

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Shall we dance?: Boston's Kendrick Perkins tries to fight his way past Cleveland's Samardo Samuels during the Celtics' 112-95 win on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

Celtics heap more woe on lowly Cavs

BOSTON (AP) Kendrick Perkins spent the last seven months coming back from a knee injury, and on the day he was set to return to the floor he showed up in the trainer's office with a sore neck.

He was so excited he couldn't sleep.

Playing for the first time since injuring his knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals, Perkins had seven points and six rebounds in 16 minutes as the Boston Celtics beat Cleveland 112-95 on Tuesday night, sending the Cavaliers to their 18th straight loss.

"It felt good to be on the floor," said Perkins, who missed 43 games in all recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. "I know I can do better. I can do more. . . . I was a little winded and a little off-key. I can get better."

Paul Pierce scored all 24 of his points in the first half, and Ray Allen added 18 to help the Celtics bounce back from a loss to the struggling Washington Wizards.

It was the Cavs' first time back in Boston since losing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals — the second time in three years the Celtics knocked them out of the playoffs. This time, it ended the LeBron James era in Cleveland; he stripped out of his Cavaliers jersey before he got to the locker room, then signed with the Miami Heat as a free agent.

Things have not gone well for the Cavaliers in their first season without the two-time NBA MVP. They have gone from the best record in the NBA to the worst, losing 27 of their last 28 games since Thanksgiving weekend.

"I don't care about all that," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "We'll have a breakthrough. I'm not looking at the number of losses and things like that. I'm looking at it game-by-game and seeing if we're improving on both ends of the floor."

J.J. Hickson had 12 points and 17 rebounds for Cleveland, which needs a win against Denver on Friday to avoid tying the franchise's single-season record for consecutive losses. The Cavs lost their last 19 games in 1981-82, then their first five in '82-83 for an NBA-record 24 losses in a row.

"It's human nature to think about how many we've lost in a row, and whatever record we've set. Losing is tough, in general," forward Antawn Jamison said. "To be where we're at — one of the worst records in the league right now — that's tough. We've just got to worry about trying to find a way to fix it. That's about the only thing you can do."

Nuggets 120, Wizards 109

In Washington, Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Nene and Al Harrington each scored 21 and Denver beat the Wizards.

It was the sixth win in the last eight games for the Nuggest, who began a five-game road trip with a strong performance that comes amid continued trade talk surrounding Anthony.

Mavericks 112, Clippers 105

In Dallas, Jason Terry scored a season-high 28 points and J.J. Barea added 25, lifting the Mavericks to the victory.

The performance by the reserve guards helped Dallas erase an early 15-point deficit. The Mavs turned things around with a 23-6 spurt in the third quarter, then put together a 14-0 run in the fourth.

Bobcats 94, Kings 89

In Sacramento, Stephen Jackson scored 21 points and Kwame Brown had a season-high 18 rebounds to lead Charlotte to a win over the Kings.

The win was the third in four games for the Bobcats, who are 9-6 since Paul Silas was named interim head coach on Dec. 22, replacing Larry Brown. Kwame Brown had 13 points and his 18 rebounds were one short of his career high.

Lakers 120, Jazz 91

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 21 points in three quarters and the Lakers led all the way in defeating Utah, handing the Jazz their fifth straight loss overall and on the road.

Pau Gasol added 20 points, Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Lamar Odom scored 17 off the bench for the Lakers, who won their seventh in a row at home.

The Lakers had the game in hand after the first quarter, when they shot 72 percent from the floor, hit all three of their 3-pointers and went 8 of 10 on free throws while building a 17-point lead.

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