Paul Pierce more than made up for a thumb injury that sidelined Ray Allen and the foul trouble that limited Kevin Garnett. Pierce scored 30 points and the Boston Celtics spoiled Chris Paul's return from injury with an 89-77 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.
"Night in and night out I don't know what the team is going to need from me," Pierce said. "Obviously my scoring was needed, so I had to step up. I just feel out the game, see how it's going and play from there."
Limited to less than 30 minutes after committing his fourth foul in the third quarter, Garnett still finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Eddie House scored eight of his 12 points in the final period to help Boston pull away for its eighth straight road win.
Paul, who'd missed four games with a right groin strain, finished with 13 points and five assists in 32 minutes. He was disappointed with the loss, but satisfied with how he felt physically after the game.
"I was a little nervous about what I could do," Paul said. "It's one thing in practice, playing two-on-two, but it's another thing playing at game speed. But I'm excited because now I feel good to go."
Allen wore a wrap on his right hand in the locker room following the game, but said he'd try to play Thursday night in Dallas.
David West had 15 points and Hilton Armstrong 14 for New Orleans.
With the game tied at 64 through three quarters, Paul rested during the first 5 minutes of the fourth, when House made two 3-pointers and scored eight points to help the Celtics surge to a 79-67 lead.
"When it's the fourth quarter you've got to make them count. I got the looks and made sure I took my time with it and knocked them down," House said. "If you want to pick when you're going to knock your shot down, you'd rather knock it down in the fourth quarter."
Rajon Rondo added a difficult floater in the lane and fed a bounce pass to Leon Powe for a dunk during the spurt.
"Rondo does a great job finding open guys, and when he wasn't finding open guys he was finishing at the rim," Pierce said.
Paul returned with about 7 minutes to go, but it was too late. Rasual Butler's 3-pointer got New Orleans within eight points with a little over 6 minutes left, but Pierce fed Powe for another dunk to get Boston's lead back to 10, Garnett added a jumper and the Celtics led by double digits the rest of the way.
Powe finished with 11 points for Boston and Rondo had 11 assists.
Cavaliers 109, Suns 92
At Cleveland, Mo Williams scored a career-high 44 points and LeBron James added 26 as the Cavs bounced back from their first two-game losing slide this season with their 40th victory.
Williams was 18-of-26 from the floor and made seven 3-pointers against the Suns, without starting point guard Steve Nash, who didn't dress to get extra rest for numerous sore spots.
Amare Stoudemire scored 27 points for Phoenix.
Nuggets 82, Magic 73
At Orlando, Fla., Carmelo Anthony had 29 points and eight rebounds, and Denver ended a 15-game losing streak in Orlando. Kenyon Martin scored 13 points, Nene added 12 and Chauncey Billups had 11 points for the Nuggets, who hadn't won in Orlando since March 10, 1992.
Dwight Howard had 16 points and Rashard Lewis scored 12 for the Magic, who finished with a season low in points, a season-high 24 turnovers and were held to a season-low 30.4 percent shooting.
Raptors 91, Spurs 89
At Toronto, Roko Ukic scored a career-high 22 points, Andrea Bargnani had 23 and the Raptors won for only the second time in eight games.
Manu Ginobili matched a season-high with 32 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough for the Spurs, who had won 11 of 13 coming in.
Tim Duncan had 20 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio and Tony Parker scored 22 points, but he missed what would have been a game-tying jumper at the buzzer.
Jason Kapono scored 21 for the Raptors.
Hawks 99, Pistons 95
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Joe Johnson scored 27 points, Flip Murray had 23 and the Hawks (31-21) matched the most wins they've had at the All-Star break in a decade.
Allen Iverson scored 26 for the Pistons (27-24), who head into the break after losing three straight and 13 of 18.
Bobcats 101, Wizards 89
At Charlotte, N.C., D.J. Augustin scored 24 points and Vladimir Radmanovic added 21 in another strong game for his new team.
Emeka Okafor dominated the inside with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Raymond Felton had 15 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for the Bobcats.
Caron Butler scored 26 points and Antawn Jamison had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
76ers 91, Grizzlies 87
At Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala scored 18 points and made the winning basket with 26 seconds left, lifting the 76ers to a fourth straight win.
Hakim Warrick, who scored a season-high 31 points for the Grizzlies, missed a dunk and Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert sealed the win from the free throw line.
Rockets 94, Kings 82
At Houston, Yao Ming had 24 points and 18 rebounds, Rafer Alston dished out a season-high 13 assists and the Rockets won again without injured Tracy McGrady.
Luis Scola added 19 points and 11 rebounds and Ron Artest scored 19 for the Rockets, who improved to 12-6 with McGrady out of the lineup this season. McGrady missed his 17th game with soreness in his left knee, the aftermath of offseason surgery. He also sat out one game with a sprained ankle.
Bucks 122, Pacers 110
At Milwaukee, Richard Jefferson scored 22 of his 32 points in the second half and Ramon Sessions added 15 points and a season-high 17 assists for the Bucks.
Indiana lost its ninth straight on the road, falling to 6-22, partly because it took so long for All-Star Danny Granger to find his stroke. Granger scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, but the Pacers couldn't rally.
Milwaukee (26-29) tied its win total from last season and improved to 2-1 without starters Michael Redd (knee), Andrew Bogut (back) and Luke Ridnour (thumb).
Jazz 113, Lakers 109
At Salt Lake City, Deron Williams had 31 points and 11 assists and the Jazz snapped the Lakers' seven-game winning streak.
Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and Lamar Odom had 19 points and 19 rebounds, but the Lakers allowed the Jazz to shoot a season-high 58.6 percent.
Clippers 128, Knicks 124, OT
At Los Angeles, Eric Gordon scored 30 points and the Clippers rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Knicks in overtime.
Steve Novak added a career-high 23 points, Zach Randolph had 22 points and 15 rebounds, Al Thornton had 20 points and Baron Davis 13 points and a career-high 20 assists for the Clippers.
Nate Robinson had 33 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds, and Wilson Chandler added 27 points for the Knicks, who lost their sixth in a row overall and their 10th consecutive against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
David Lee had 17 points and 16 rebounds, extending his streak of consecutive double-double games to 16 and tying him with Bob McAdoo for third-longest in Knicks history.
Trail Blazers 106, Thunder 92
At Portland, Ore., Brandon Roy scored 22 points and reserve Travis Outlaw had 21 for the Trail Blazers. Greg Oden had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his rookie-leading 16th double-double of the season.
Russell Westbrook had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Kevin Durant scored 20 for the Thunder.
Source: AP News