Celtics down reeling Spurs

Posted: 01/04/2011 in NBA

Celtics hand Spurs season-high fifth straight defeat

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Rajon Rondo finished with 22 points and 14 assists as the Boston Celtics used a strong second half to top the San Antonio Spurs, 107-97, at AT&T Center.

Paul Pierce posted 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Kevin Garnett scored 20 with nine boards in the victory, which put the Celtics at 2-1 on a four-game road trip.

Glen Davis scored 16 points with eight boards in a reserve role and Ray Allen added 13 points on only 3-of-11 from the field.

With the win the Celtics now hold a half game lead over the idle Miami Heat for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and are two games behind the idle Chicago Bulls for the top seed.

“It was a good, intense game. It’s nice to have some of those in the regular season,” Boston head coach Doc Rivers said. “I just thought it was a team win for us; everyone kind of pitched in.”

Tim Duncan, who returned from a four-game absence due to a sprained left ankle, paced the Spurs with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Tony Parker added 23 points with eight assists but it wasn’t enough to halt a slide that has now reached five games.

The last time San Antonio lost five straight was when they dropped the final six games of the 1996-97 campaign, the season prior to Duncan’s first overall selection in the NBA Draft.

The Spurs still hold the best record in the NBA (57-18), but are now just 2 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

“It was a tough loss. They (Celtics) played well and they deserved the win. Now we move on and try to play better in Houston,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.

After being knotted at 49 at the half, the Spurs took a 54-49 lead on consecutive possession to open the third, but the Celtics responded with a 12-2 run to take the lead. Rondo’s layup with 7:36 left capped the burst but the Spurs responded with an 11-2 run of their own to retake the lead.

Duncan’s alley-oop layup with 5:52 remaining capped the spurt and gave San Antonio a 67-63 lead.

Just as they did to start the third, the Celtics responded. A Jeff Green layup just over the five minute mark started a 14-0 Celtics spurt that gave them a double-digit advantage. Consecutive Green baskets gave Boston a 77-67 lead and the Spurs cut it to 77-70 entering the fourth.

The Boston advantage never fell below six in the fourth.

– Steve

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