5.06.2018

How the West was Won

12/31/2007

LOS ANGELES - It was all about fashion last night, from the tight throwback shorts that the Lakers mercifully scrapped at halftime for something less restrictive to the broad bandage over Kevin Garnett's right eye.

An Andrew Bynum elbow opened up that cut, but Garnett pushed off getting stitched up until after the game. Something of far more importance was on the line - a 4-0 western road swing.

The Celtics blew out a previously hot Lakers team, 110-91, and Red Auerbach can rest in peace for at least one more game.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who entered the game tied with Auerbach for seventh on the all-time NBA regular-season wins list at 938, won't be breaking that deadlock at the Celtics' expense after all.

Not when Paul Pierce, on the way to 33 points, scores 10 straight over the last three minutes of the third quarter. Not when Ray Allen picks up the torch and buries three straight jumpers, including a 3-pointer, in the first 1:30 of the fourth. And not when Eddie House completes the 11-2 run with a pull-up trey.

The Celtics didn't miss a shot in that run, just as they didn't miss on this road trip. The club ran its current road winning streak to 8-0 in the process.

``It's an important win because it was a goal to go undefeated on this trip,'' said C's coach Doc Rivers, whose club is now an NBA-best 26-3. ``We rarely look more than one game ahead, but this is something we really wanted to do. I think the atmosphere really helped our guys because we had just played a very hard game the night before (at Utah) and it sort of picked us up.''

Pierce, coming off a 24-point second half Saturday against Utah and a season-high 37-point performance Thursday against Seattle, took over at both ends during the last three minutes of the third quarter last night. He scored 10 straight points and stole the ball three times during one tough four-possession stretch. That gave the Celtics an 82-66 lead after Derek Fisher had cut the advantage to six (72-66) on a 3.

Pierce, who also opened the second half with a trey, had a three-point play and a 3-pointer during the run.

``When Paul stepped up we were also able to get some stops that really turned things for us,'' said Allen. ``We have a formula for making the team we play feel uncomfortable, and on the defensive end we just locked in.''

The Lakers, who shot 38 percent from the field, got 22 points from Kobe Bryant on 6-of-25 shooting.

Early on, it was Tony Allen who provided the spark for the C's.

Starting in place of point guard Rajon Rondo (hamstring), Allen finished with a six-point first quarter and followed with another seven through the first 5:14 of the second, including a slashing drive that gave the Celtics a 45-28 lead with 6:46 to go. But that 17-point advantage boiled down quickly.

The Celtics didn't score for another four minutes, shooting 0-for-4 from the field, missing two free throws (both by Kendrick Perkins) and turning the ball over three times during one four-possession stretch.

The Lakers responded with a 10-0 run that included five straight points from Bryant, including a free throw fueled by Rivers' technical foul.

Bynum capped the run with a pair of free throws that was another source of consternation for the Celtics bench. Though Garnett was called for the foul, he was also the one who ended up with a gash over his right eye.

Garnett went to the locker room and returned just in time to see Pierce find his groove again.

He also got one last look at the Lakers' short throwback shorts, which had Rivers laughing after the win.

``I told Kobe I know from this point on that our generation had better bodies than yours, because that was horrible,'' Rivers said.

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