Thursday, 17 May 2012
Kevin Garnett scored 27 points while Paul Pierce added 24 and Rajon Rondo had 23 as Boston cruised past Philadelphia 107-91 on Wednesday to grab the lead in their NBA playoff series.
The Celtics traded one-point victories with Philadelphia in the first two games in Boston, but their stars dominated early on the way to the team taking a 2-1 edge in the second-round Eastern Conference best-of-seven series.
Garnett, who made 12 of 17 shots, also grabbed 13 rebounds while Rondo, who hit nine of 16 from the field, passed off 14 assists and Pierce, who was only six of 17 from the field but went 11 of 14 in free throws, added 12 rebounds.
Pierce was struggling with a sore left knee but did plenty of damage.
"A great all-round game by Paul," Garnett said.
"He was aggressive. Anytime Paul is playing at a high level, we follow that lead. We figured out ways to get him the ball. He was doing a lot for us."
The Celtics outscored the 76ers by a combined 61-33 in the second and third periods, with Rondo, Garnett and Pierce having secured double doubles before the fourth quarter began.
The Celtics will try to stretch their series lead with another road triumph in game four on Friday.
In Oklahoma City, NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant struck for 22 points, five coming in a game-ending 9-0 run, as the Thunder stunned the Los Angeles Lakers 77-75 in the Western Conference second-round playoffs on Wednesday.
Oklahoma City, unbeaten in six playoff games, seized a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"We kept our composure," Durant said. "Their defence was unbelievable tonight. We stuck with it and I was able to make some big shots. A win is a win in the playoffs. We've got to be prepared for game three."
On the verge of pulling even in the series, the Lakers return home in need of a victory on Friday to avoid being on the edge of elimination.
"We're pretty disappointed," Lakers' guard Steve Blake said. "We worked hard to get that lead. They took it from us but we gave it away at the same time."
The Lakers' defence shut down the NBA's most potent playoff scoring attack most of the game and took a 75-68 lead on a hook shot by Andrew Bynum with 2:08 to play in the fourth quarter. But Los Angeles would not score again.