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Monday, March 21, 2011

Celtics click into gear, rally to beat Hornets

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Boston Celtics were coming off a listless loss at Houston and were playing just as poorly against New Orleans. Then they went back to what got them to the top of the Eastern Conference — stifling defense and terrific shooting.

News photo
Make way: Hornets guard Chris Paul dribbles around the Celtics' Kevin Garnett on Saturday in New Orleans. AP PHOTO

Ray Allen scored 20 points, including the clinching free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and the Celtics rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets 89-85 on Saturday night.

Allen also had a key offensive rebound that led to Glen Davis' two foul shots that made it 87-83 with 15.2 seconds remaining. Davis, a Baton Rouge, La., native who played at nearby LSU, also had 20 points.

The Celtics trailed 56-41 early in the third quarter but closed the period with a 23-6 run to go ahead 67-64 and never trailed again.

Boston, the NBA leader in field-goal percentage, shot 12 of 16 (75 percent) in the third quarter. The Celtics, who also lead the NBA in scoring defense, held the Hornets to 34 points in the second half and 6-of-21 shooting (28.6 percent) in the third quarter.

"The energy level changed," Davis said. "We started doing the things we know how to do best. We changed the tempo of the game and we made them uncomfortable in the things they had been doing."

The Celtics snapped a three-game road losing streak and moved back into a tie with idle Chicago for the best record in the conference.

"We played so poorly last night and we really just started the game the same way today," coach Doc Rivers said. "It meant a lot to the guys to come back. They wanted this win."

Clippers 100, Cavaliers 92

In Los Angeles, Blake Griffin had 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Eric Gordon scored 29 and the Clippers beat Cleveland to end a nine-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Heat 103, Nuggets 98

In Miami, LeBron James scored 33 points, Dwyane Wade had 32 and the Heat never trailed.

Chris Bosh finished with his fifth straight double-double, 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Spurs 109, Bobcats 98

In San Antonio, Steve Novak scored 19 points while Tim Duncan took his first game off all season, helping the Spurs to the victory.

Grizzlies 99, Pacers 78

In Memphis, Tony Allen had 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies to a easy win.

Trail Blazers 110, 76ers 101

In Portland, Wesley Matthews had 17 of his 28 points in the first quarter, helping the Blazers to the victory.



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