|Celtics focus on defensive effort to beat Hornets 112-92 in battle of conference leaders|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 28 March 2008 22:24|
Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics hadn't forgotten their loss in New Orleans last weekend.
Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Garnett added 21, and the Celtics moved closer to wrapping up the top record overall by beating the Hornets 112-92 on Friday night.
``It always starts with our defense, and that's what we say every game,'' Pierce said.
The Hornets beat the Celtics 113-106 on Saturday night.
In the midst of a tight game, Garnett wanted his teammates to pick up the intensity defensively midway into the third quarter, and he showed them when he dropped to his knees with his hands close to the floor while setting up to cover David West at the top of the key. West did drive by for a basket after Garnett squared up defensively, cutting it to 72-68, but the Celtics scored 19 of the next 24 points.
``In my mind the matchup started (Thursday) in practice,'' Garnett said. ``(West) scored 37 when we played them in New Orleans. I took that a little personally. In my mind I do a lot of things on the court I can't remember. I was just trying to be aggressive on defense and be as aggressive as I could.''
Eastern Conference-leading Boston (57-15) opened its advantage to six games over the idle Detroit Pistons with 10 games left. The Hornets (49-22) had a five-game winning streak halted. With the victory, the Celtics have beaten every team at least once this season for the first time since 1990-91.
In other NBA games Friday night it was: Memphis 114, Los Angeles Lakers 111; Atlanta 106, Chicago 103; Indiana 123, New Jersey 115; Phoenix 107, Philadelphia 93; Toronto 103, New York 95; San Antonio 99, Minnesota 84; Utah 121, the Los Angeles Clippers 101; Washington 114, Sacramento 108; and Charlotte 96, Seattle 93.
Chris Paul paced the Hornets with 22 points and 10 assists. Peja Stojakovic had 17 points and West 14.
``We feel like it got away from us in the third quarter, but that's our fault,'' Paul said. ``You can't take anything away from them. They have a great team, but we feel like we let one get away.''
Grizzlies 114, Lakers 111
At Los Angeles, Rudy Gay led five players in double figures with 28 points and the Grizzlies beat the Lakers despite 53 points by Kobe Bryant against the NBA's worst road team.
Bryant scored 50 or more points for the 23rd time and the second this month. He had 52 against Dallas on March 2.
Hawks 106, Bulls 103
At Atlanta, Mike Bibby scored 30 points and the Hawks held on after nearly blowing a 22-point lead, giving themselves breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a victory over the slumping Bulls.
The Hawks were up 31-12 and they appeared headed for a laugher when Al Horford's dunk made it 72-50 with 7 minutes left in the third quarter.
Not so fast. Led by Ben Gordon, the Bulls twice closed within a point in the final minutes and had a chance to force overtime in the closing seconds. Gordon, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the fourth, got off a long 3-pointer that rimmed out as the horn sounded.
Luol Deng scored 19 points to lead the Bulls.
Pacers 123, Nets 115
At Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 26 points and Indiana halted a two-game losing skid.
Troy Murphy had 21 points and 17 rebounds for Indiana after missing the previous game with strep throat.
Vince Carter scored 33 points, Devin Harris scored a career-high 27 and Josh Boone had 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets.
Suns 107, 76ers 93
At Philadelphia, Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points, Raja Bell had 20 and the Suns avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.
The Suns lost consecutive road games at Detroit and Boston, yet had little problem thrashing the 76ers.
Andre Miller had 16 points and 10 assists, Lou Williams scored 15 points and Andre Iguodala had 13 for Philadelphia.
Raptors 103, Knicks 95
At Toronto, Chris Bosh had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Rasho Nesterovic added 18 points, and the Raptors beat the Knicks.
Jamal Crawford scored 26 and Jared Jeffries had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won just two of their past 15 games.
Spurs 99, Timberwolves 84
At San Antonio, Manu Ginobili scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and the Spurs picked up their sixth straight win.
Ryan Gomes led the Timberwolves with 17 points.
Magic 103, Bucks 86
At Milwaukee, Dwight Howard had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Magic to their franchise-record 24th road victory.
Rashard Lewis added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Carlos Arroyo had 13 points and nine assists for the Magic, who improved to 24-13 on the road. The team was 15-26 last season.
Mo Williams finished with 18 points and five assists for Milwaukee.
Jazz 121, Clippers 101
At Salt Lake City, Carlos Boozer scored 34 and Deron Williams had 32 points to overcome the loss of the three other Utah starters and lead the Jazz past the Los Angeles Clippers.
Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer did not dress due to the effects of a stomach virus. Andrei Kirilenko was scoreless in nine minutes before leaving with spasms in his right calf. But Williams and Boozer provided all the offensive firepower the Jazz needed and both topped 30 points for the first time in game.
Corey Maggette scored 28 points to lead Los Angeles.
Wizards 114, Kings 108
At Sacramento, Calif., Antawn Jamison had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who used a big third quarter to beat the Kings.
Ron Artest scored 28 points for Sacramento, which has lost four of five.
Bobcats 96, SuperSonics 93
At Seattle, Raymond Felton hit a crucial basket along with a pair of free throws in the final minute to help lift the Bobcats.
Felton hit a 20-footer with 49.8 seconds left to give the Bobcats a 92-91 lead. On the Sonics' next possession, Earl Watson turned the ball over to foil Seattle's chance to respond.
Kevin Durant led the Sonics with 18 points.