By Dave Del Grande, Sports Xchange
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Golden State Warriors took advantage of Rajon Rondo's absence and uncharacteristically poor performances by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to run away from the Boston Celtics early en route to a 101-83 victory Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
In completing a Philadelphia-Boston sweep on back-to-back nights on the home court, the Warriors tied a franchise record with a 12th win in December. Only the 1961-62 Philadelphia Warriors previously had accomplished the feat.
Few, if any, were easier than this.
Stephen Curry swished four 3-pointers among 22 points and David Lee recorded yet another 20-plus night with an even 20 as the Warriors ran their record to 12-4 in the month and 13-2 overall against Eastern Conference competition this season.
Coming off a 106-77 drubbing at the hands of the Clippers in Los Angeles, the Celtics weren't much more competition two nights later, clearly missing Rondo, who said he bruised his right hip in Thursday's loss.
Guards Courtney Lee (18 points) and Jason Terry (13) helped take up the slack, but they got almost no help from two normally reliable sources, Pierce and Garnett. They combined to miss 19 of their 26 shots, with Pierce the biggest culprit, going just 4-for-20.
Pierce did manage 13 points, but Garnett was held to just six points and three rebounds.
The only signs of Celtics life on this night came in the final 1:15 of the third quarter, after the visitors had chipped away at a 20-point deficit earlier in the period to find themselves down 76-59 after a Curry 3-pointer.
Boston then turned four consecutive Warriors turnovers into baskets, two by Lee, in an eight-point flurry that sent the teams into the fourth quarter separated by just nine points, 76-67.
But the Warriors used the between-periods break to clean up their act, and when guards Jarrett Jack and Charles Jenkins buried two hoops apiece, including a 3-pointer by Jack, the advantage was back up to 85-73 and the Celtics never got back within single digits the rest of the way.
The difference in a 57-40 first half was best represented in the match of small forwards, one of whom enjoyed the best 24 minutes of his career while the other endured arguably his worst. And being that the latter was 15-year veteran Pierce, that's a long time.
The Oakland native was so far off his game in the half, he had almost as many shots miss the rim (five) as hit it (six). The five seriously errant attempts include two that were blocked by Warriors center Festus Ezeli, two others that clunked off glass only and an airball on his first try of the night from 3-point range.
Pierce might have gone 0 for 11 in the half if not for a Klay Thompson foul on an 18-footer. The shot went in, starting a three-point play, to end the perennial All-Star's drought at 2:57 before halftime.
Pierce did make two other free throws in the half, giving him five points through two periods despite 1 for 11 shooting from the floor.
Counterpart Harrison Barnes, meanwhile, was nearly perfect. He buried three of his four 3-point attempts and his only two-pointer during a 13-point half.
Barnes finished with 15 points, misfiring just once in six attempts.
Lee (16) and Thompson (10) also reached double figures during the early runaway.
NOTES: The game pitted teams missing their starting centers named Andrew, with neither organization willing to guess when the 76ers' Bynum (bilateral knee bone bruises) and the Warriors' Bogut (left foot surgery) will return. ... The Celtics' visit tips off a stretch of eight games for Golden State against teams currently .500 or better. Half the matchups are with division leaders. ... The 76ers and Warriors have both benefited from a three-team trade in the off-season that landed Dorell Wright in Philadelphia and Jarrett Jack in Oakland. Wright recently got promoted to the 76ers' starting lineup, while Jack is an early candidate for the NBA's Sixth Man Award. ... A trade that didn't go so well for the Warriors was the one that sent current 76er Jason Richardson to Charlotte shortly after the 2007 playoffs. The Warriors, who upset Western top-seed Dallas in those playoffs, have not made the postseason since. ... Richardson, the 76ers' fourth-leading scorer, was cleared to play before the game after having missed Wednesday's win at Memphis with a lower-back strain. ... Asked before the game if he thought the Warriors had "staying power" after their 19-10 start, 76ers coach Doug Collins responded with a definitive: Yes. "They're a feel-good team. When you watch them play, it looks like they like to play," the ex-broadcaster observed. "They've got depth and they've got good chemistry."