Celtics Snowball Kings
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BOSTON (AP) – Paul Pierce scored 25 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 13 assists to lead the Boston Celtics to a 119-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Pierce scored 15 points in the first quarter as Boston got off to a quick start to bounce back from surprising home loss to Houston on Monday night. The Celtics had been 5-5 since Christmas, when they lost to the Orlando Magic to end a 14-game winning streak.
Reserve Carl Landry scored 17 points and Beno Udrih had 16 for Sacramento, which has lost 12 consecutive road games.
The Kings lost 136-133 in overtime to the Wizards in Washington on Tuesday night and arrived in Boston at 3:30 a.m., just beating the worst of the blizzard that blanketed the Boston area with more than a foot of snow.
The Celtics thanked fans for coming out in the snow; it was announced as a sellout, and there weren’t many no-shows.
And the crowd got an early start on the way out, thanks to a blowout that the Celtics needed.
Since opening the season with a 23-4 record — the best in the East — the Celtics had played .500 ball and fallen a game behind Miami in the conference. After Monday’s loss to the Rockets, who were without leading scorer Kevin Martin, Boston coach Doc Rivers warned his players that the loss of home-court advantage could be costly.
They seemed to respond. Ray Allen scored 14 points, making four of five from 3-point range, and reserve Semih Erden had 10 points and eight rebounds while filling in at center when Shaquille O’Neal got into early foul trouble.
O’Neal had zero points and zero rebounds at the half, thanks to the three fouls he picked up in just over 7 minutes of action. He picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, an offensive foul called by referee Bob Delaney.
O’Neal had had problems with Delaney in the past. In Boston’s Christmas Day game against the Magic, O’Neal fouled out in just 12:39, scoring two points, and complained afterward, “I guess they come out to see No. 26 play.”
Delaney’s number is 26. O’Neal was fined $35,000 by the NBA for his comments. The Celtics scored the first eight points of the game and led by six after one quarter, when Pierce already had 15 points and four rebounds.
Boston led by eight at the half and scored 11 of the first 13 points of the third quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers by Allen.
Boston led by 25 in the third before Pooh Jeter hit a long 2-pointer in the final minute.
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