Pierce’s 17 points in 3rd help Boston pull away

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BOSTON (AP)—Everything was working so well for Paul Pierce that his teammates just kept getting him the ball.

Pierce scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter to lead the Boston Celtics to their ninth straight win, 107-88 over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.

“We were just taking advantage of the matchups,” Pierce said. “We saw something that we could do and we just kept going to it. My teammates did a good job of setting me up.”

Pierce, who scored only five points in the opening half, carried the Celtics from a two-point halftime edge to a 12-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

Isolating against Hedo Turkoglu on a number of trips, Pierce scored 15 of Boston’s 20 points as the Celtics pulled ahead 68-57.

When Pierce was contained driving the lane, he fired a pass to Ray Allen, who nailed a 3-pointer from the top to make it 71-57.

After Pierce scored easily against Turkoglu, the Magic tried Rashard Lewis against Pierce, with only a little better success.

“He did what he’s been doing all his career,” Boston point guard Rajon Rondo said. “He had a rhythm and we continued to call plays for him.”

Allen added 21 points, Rondo had 16 points with 12 assists and Kevin Garnett scored 15 points for the Celtics (17-2) in a win over a top Eastern Conference rival.

There were eight technicals whistled in the game, with referee Bob Delaney calling four in the first half.

“This was one interesting game. A lot of technicals,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said, before joking: “I better be quiet before I get a technical.”

Lewis paced Orlando (13-5) with 30 points. Turkoglu had 19 and Dwight Howard, the NBA’s leading rebounder, had 14 points with 15 boards and four blocked shots.

“We didn’t do a very good job on the pick and rolls in the second half,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think more than anything it was a problem with our schemes and preparation.”

The Magic had their four-game winning streak snapped. Orlando had won six straight road games, one short of its club record set at the start of last season.

Similar to the opening minutes of the game, when Boston broke ahead by 10 points, the Celtics controlled the tempo and appeared to run whatever they wanted on offense.

Boston, which held Orlando to 39 percent shooting in the first three quarters, led 77-65 at the break.

Eddie House’s 3-pointer made it 92-75 with 6:50 to play, and Boston cruised the rest of the way, mixing starters with reserves.

In the opening half, the Celtics shot 60 percent and led 28-18 after one. They opened it up to 37-22 on Glen Davis’ jumper before the Magic scored 10 straight points to get back into it.

The Magic were without their starting backcourt for the second consecutive game. Jameer Nelson was sidelined for his fourth straight with a hip flexor and Mickael Pietrus is on injured reserve with a torn right thumb ligament.

“Yeah, they smacked us tonight,” Orlando guard Anthony Johnson said. “But with two healthy squads I feel very good.”

Notes

Delaney whistled technicals on Van Gundy, Rondo, and two and an ejection against Celtics G Sam Cassell. … Rivers was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for the season’s first month, making him just the third coach to win the conference’s award for three straight months. He won the last two at the end of last season. The other two were Flip Saunders with Detroit in 2005-06 and Larry Brown with Philadelphia in 2002-03. “It just means a lot of people did a lot of good things and a lot of your players are hitting their jump shots,” Rivers said before the game.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Orlando
R. Lewis Rashard Lewis
11-23,  30 Pts
5 Rebs, 0 Assists
 Boston
R. Rondo Rajon Rondo
6-10,  16 Pts
4 Rebs, 12 Assists

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Monday, Dec 1