|Celtics' streak at 19 ahead of Lakers showdown|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 23 December 2008 23:16|
And despite their 19-game winning streak and the Christmas Day spotlight, the Celtics say it will be business as usual when they face the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time since the NBA finals.
``I totally appreciate the whole history of the Lakers and Celtics and the tradition, the players who've come through both teams, the foundations of this league,'' Kevin Garnett said. ``But to put all the eggs in one basket on one game, or that we circle it ... we circle all the games, and if you're on the schedule we don't decline any shows.''
Boston broke the franchise record, set in 1981-82, for longest winning streak with a 110-91 home victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The Celtics improved to 27-2 - the best start for a two-loss team in NBA history.
The Lakers aren't far behind, moving to 23-5 with a 100-87 victory at New Orleans on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant scored 26 points and Pau Gasol added 20 in a performance that was more dominant than the final score indicated and precisely what the Lakers needed after stumbling through much of a four-game road trip.
got a little bit of a rhythm here and get ready for the showdown,'' Bryant said.
In other NBA games Tuesday, it was: New Jersey 108, Indiana 107; Cleveland 99, Houston 90; Atlanta 99, Oklahoma City 88; Charlotte 80, Washington 72; Miami 96, Golden State 88; Milwaukee 94, Utah 86; Detroit 104, Chicago 98; Dallas 100, Memphis 82; San Antonio 99, Minnesota 93; and Portland 101, Denver 92.
The Celtics beat the Lakers in six games in June for their NBA-best 17th championship. But now the Lakers have center Andrew Bynum and forward Trevor Ariza back at full strength. Bynum scored 13 points against the Hornets, Derek Fisher had 11 and Ariza added 10.
``We've got a couple guys obviously that weren't there for us last year that are here now and that helps our depth tremendously,'' Bryant said.
At Boston, Garnett and Rajon Rondo each scored 18 points. They were on the bench with the rest of the starters by the time fans started chanting ``Beat L.A.!'' in the closing minutes.
A 20th win in a row Thursday at Staples Center and the Celtics would pass the 1999-00 Lakers and tie for the third-longest winning streak in league history. The 1971-72 Lakers won 33 in a row, the NBA record.
try to keep getting better.''
Cavaliers 99, Rockets 90
At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half and Mo Williams added 23 as the Cavaliers remained the NBA's only undefeated team at home.
Rafer Alston scored 20 points and Yao Ming, who spent most of the night in foul trouble, had 19 - 13 on free throws - for the Rockets, who had their four-game winning streak stopped.
Pistons 104, Bulls 98
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Rodney Stuckey scored 40 points, topping his previous career high by 13, and Detroit overcame an injury to Allen Iverson.
Stuckey helped the Pistons end a two-game skid and improve to 11-11 since Iverson joined the team. The star guard managed only five points, sitting out most of the second half with a groin strain. He shot 0-for-7 from the field and made five of six free throws.
Larry Hughes led the Bulls with 19 points, while Andres Nocioni had 18.
Spurs 99, Timberwolves 93
At San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 36 points on 13-of-17 shooting and the Spurs handed the Timberwolves their 13th consecutive loss.
Tim Duncan added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs (18-10), who have won nine of 11 heading into a Christmas Day matchup in Phoenix.
Al Jefferson led the Timberwolves with 28 points. Randy Foye added 26 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
Nets 108, Pacers 107
Harris made a jumper from the top of the key as time expired to lift the Nets.
Harris finished with 29 points and 11 assists as New Jersey snapped a two-game losing streak. Vince Carter led the Nets with 38 points and eight rebounds.
Danny Granger led the Pacers with 26 points in his first game back after missing two games with a viral infection.
Hawks 99, Thunder 88
At Atlanta, Joe Johnson had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his second career triple-double, and Marvin Williams scored 21 points.
Kevin Durant scored 28 points for the Thunder, who have lost two straight and 10 of 11.
Trail Blazers 101, Nuggets 92
At Portland, Ore., LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points, Brandon Roy added 19 and the Trail Blazers tied the Nuggets atop the Northwest Division.
Linas Kleiza had 20 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Nuggets, who lost three in a row before beating Portland 97-89 on Monday night in Denver. Nene had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Chauncey Billups added 17 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Heat 96, Warriors 88
At Miami, Dwyane Wade had 32 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Daequan Cook scored 15 of his 20 points to spark a second-quarter comeback, and the Heat (15-12) matched last season's win total.
lus Stephen Jackson (hand), Monta Ellis (ankle) and Corey Maggette (hamstring).
Bucks 94, Jazz 86
At Milwaukee, Michael Redd scored 27 points and the Bucks won for the fifth time in six games and snapped an eight-game losing streak against Utah.
Andrei Kirilenko scored a season-high 22 off the bench for Utah. The Jazz were playing without center Mehmet Okur, who sat out with back spasms, and forward Carlos Boozer, who missed his 18th straight with a strained left quad tendon.
Mavericks 100, Grizzlies 82
At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, Jason Terry added 17 and the Mavericks stretched their winning streak against Memphis to 13 games.
Hakim Warrick had 17 points, and Rudy Gay added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Grizzlies.
Bobcats 80, Wizards 72
At Charlotte, N.C., Emeka Okafor had 29 points and 18 rebounds, and Charlotte pulled away in the fourth quarter to send reeling Washington (4-22) to the worst 26-game start in franchise history.
Caron Butler's 31 points weren't enough for the woeful Wizards, who dropped their seventh straight.