Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Paul Pierce finished with a team-high 32 points and Ray Allen poured in 21, as the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 109-96, in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals at Staples Center.
The Lakers defeated Boston in an epic seven-game series last season to win their 16th NBA crown and deny the Celtics their 18th.
Kevin Garnett registered a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo ended with 10 points and 16 assists for the Celtics, who recovered after suffering an 88-71 loss to Phoenix on Friday and have won eight of 10 overall.
“It was definitely an emotional game,” Pierce said. “The guys were really up for this one. We were able to keep our tempo in the second half and Rondo was able to keep them off balance. When we play together, we are a tough team to beat.”
Boston improved to 153-120 in the all-time series versus the Lakers.
“Unfortunately there were two halves to the game today,” Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. “I was pleased with the first half, but they put us on our heels in the second half. They got almost everything they wanted.”
LA scored the last five points of the opening quarter, but Boston held a slim 22-21 edge after 12 minutes of action.
The Celtics were up 40-33 near the midway point of the second, but Bryant hit a three-pointer to cap an 11-2 run and put the Lakers in front 44-42 with 2:41 before the half.
LA was up by six with just over a second to play, but Odom inexplicably fouled Glen Davis on a desperation heave prior to the buzzer sounding. Davis made 2- of-3 from the line to cut the Boston deficit to 54-50 at the break.
After the Celtics were down by seven in the early stages of the third, Pierce finished off an 18-5 run with a layup to put the Celtics in front 68-62 with 5:18 left. Pierce hit three from beyond the arc and accounted for 14 points during the surge. Boston was up 77-72 after three.
Davis’ layup with 8:16 to play stretched the Celtics lead to nine and they would go up by 11, 98-87, after Garnett’s alley-oop lay-in with just over four minutes remaining. LA never threatened the outcome the rest of the way.
Davis and Robinson finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively for Boston, which shot 60.3 percent from the field and made 9-of-17 from three-point range…Pau Gasol had 12 points and seven boards for the Lakers, who made 44.4 percent of their shots and 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
For more information on Sunday’s game, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.
01/30 19:06:31 ET