SEATTLE - Too many players to mention were out for blood last night.
Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak played as if Danny Ainge's face was on the backboard, and Kevin Durant alternated between big shots and staring down hecklers on the Celtics bench.
Unfortunately for Seattle, Paul Pierce was smelling blood as well. Faced with subpar games in the offensive end from Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - the latter perhaps softened up by a nice pregame ceremony thrown by his old team - Pierce buried most of the big shots in the C's 104-96 win over Seattle.
Pierce scored a season-high 37 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Celtics withstood a 19-point, eight-assist gem from West and 25 points from Durant to win their sixth straight road win and improve to an NBA-best 24-3, matching last season's win total before New Year's Day.
``It's a great feeling to be on the other end of the spectrum like that,'' said Allen. ``Everyone in this locker room has been on the opposite side. It's great to be part of a turnound like this.''
With Allen and Garnett on the bench, and the Sonics finally at room temperature, Pierce and Eddie House buried the first daggers - the latter with a quarter-opening 20-footer, a three-point play off another deep jumper, and a 15-footer at the buzzer. House would score 11 of his 13 points in the fourth.
Pierce had just hit back-to-back 15-footers off the dribble when House canned his buzzer beater for an 81-72 edge. Pierce came out of a timeout with another mid-range jumper, and at 83-72 giving the Celtics their biggest lead of the game.
House's 20-footer with 7:47 left was good for an 85-74 lead, and following a Kurt Thomas three-point play, Pierce and James Posey put together back-to-back treys for a 91-77 lead with 6:25 left.
West scored four points in a late-quarter 6-1 run that cut the Celtics lead to 94-85 with 3:33 left, including a tough running banker over his old teammate, Rajon Rondo.
But Garnett, with just five second-half points to that stage, forced a timeout with an open 20-footer for a 96-85 lead with 3:03 left.
An Earl Watson buzzer-beater cut the lead to eight points (96-88) 30 seconds later, but the Celtics were now living at the line. Four straight free throws, including two from Posey with 1:54 left, was good for a 100-88 lead that was finally beyond reach.
The Celtics, despite an improved attack in the third quarter that included three treys and 13 points from Pierce, could not shake the suddenly inspired Sonics.
Where West and Szczerbiak provided the first half spark off the bench, this time Durant stepped up with a 12-point run that included a trey and a three-point play.
The rookie buried his last basket of the quarter - a 20-footer - in front of a jeering Celtics bench, and immediately turned to stare down his tormentors. Szczerbiak tacked on two free throws, and the Sonics had cut the Celtics' lead to 70-67 by the start of the fourth.
West had an 11-point first half and Szczerbiak a 12-point second quarter, including two treys.
``I don't really enjoy when you have to play against people that you like,'' C's coach Doc Rivers said. ``I wanted them to do well, but that was a little bit overboard. Delonte kicked our butts and Wally did it to us in the first half.''