Celtics 116, Lakers 95

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett became the 16th NBA player to reach 25,000 points and the surging Celtics won their sixth straight game since losing Rajon Rondo for the season, hammering the Los Angeles Lakers 116-95 Thursday night.
Garnett, who overcame two early fouls, scored 15 points in the game and now has 25,009.
Already leading by 14 at halftime, the Celtics hit the limping Lakers, playing without Pau Gasol (foot) and with Dwight Howard (shoulder) limited, with 37 points in the third quarter, 14 of them in the final 2:40 of the quarter to go up by 26.
The lead ballooned to 32 in the fourth quarter as the Celts pounded their rivals.
The loss was only the second in the last six games for the Lakers, who were playing game five of a seven-game, Grammy-forced road trip and got 27 points from Kobe Bryant. He sat out the fourth quarter.
Paul Pierce had 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists and wasn't needed in the fourth quarter. Jeff Green came off the bench with 19 points, matching his season high, fellow sub Jason Terry scored 15 and Chris Wilcox had eight points and a season-high nine rebounds on another big night for the Boston reserves.
Howard had nine points and nine rebounds, fouling out with 5:07 left. He was 1 of 6 from the foul line, where the Lakers went 18 of 30.
Howard, challenged through the media by his teammates to play with the shoulder pain caused by a torn rotator cuff, was said to be a scratch but declared himself a game-time decision and started. It was clear to anyone watching he was not the same player because of the shoulder. And remember, he is also coming off back surgery.
The Celtics were hit with five fouls in a span of 39 seconds early in the game, and two of them were on Garnett, in a span of 12 seconds. That sent Garnett to the bench after 2:08 and he didn't come back until the second quarter. He scored two quick baskets and then, with 8:09 left, scored again for the 25,000th point.
During the next timeout, Garnett was saluted on the big board and by the crowd, each teammate congratulating him before he waved to the crowd. He had nine points in the quarter.
NOTES: With the Feb. 21 trade deadline getting closer, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge says he has no plans to trade Garnett or Pierce. "There aren't a lot of teams that are trying to pursue players of KG and Paul's age, and I just think that we value them more than other teams value them," Ainge told WEEI. ... Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't buy into the common belief this matchup has lost its luster because of the struggles of both teams, saying, "They still wear that same color; and we wear the same color. Through all of it, it's still the same thing, you enjoy the game because they are fun. Kobe is there; Kevin and Paul are there. It always will be fun. It's more, we're just playing right now; we're not dealing with anything. They have more firestorms going on. Give them credit, they've won six out of seven through it. In some ways, it may be helping them." ... With a blizzard coming into the Northeast, the Celtics will await the arrival of the Nuggets for Sunday night's game. The Lakers are scheduled at Charlotte on Friday night. ... Bryant came in with 405 30-point games, which left him behind Michael Jordan (562), Wilt Chamberlain (515), Karl Malone (435) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (429). In different order, those are the four top career scorers and Bryant is fifth on that list, too.

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