Celtics reap revenge on L.A.

LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce says the Boston Celtics had no reason to discuss their heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the NBA finals last summer before they returned to Staples Center on Sunday.

With a spectacularly fluid performance on offense against the outclassed Lakers, Pierce and the Celtics showed some things just don't need to be said out loud.

Pierce scored 32 points, Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 13 rebounds with a large bandage over a five-stitch cut on his head, and the Celtics overcame Kobe Bryant's 41 points in a 109-96 victory over Los Angeles.

Ray Allen scored 21 points for the Celtics in the longtime rivals' first meeting since Los Angeles rallied from a late 13-point deficit for an 83-79 win in the deciding game last June, ending an exhausting series in dramatic fashion.

"It's another game, but it was definitely an emotional game, especially because we lost Game 7 here," said Pierce, who dueled down the second-half stretch with Bryant. "It feels good to come back in this building and get a win."

The Celtics overwhelmed the Lakers in the rematch, with Rajon Rondo catalyzing the offense by racking up 15 of his 16 assists after halftime. Boston showed off its enviably complete game, outrebounding the Lakers 43-30 — a big problem for Boston in last season's finale — while hitting nine 3-pointers and getting 34 assists to Los Angeles' 10.

With his every assist against the defense of Bryant and Derek Fisher, Rondo also made a matter-of-fact statement about the Celtics' prowess in areas the Lakers can't match right now.

"We knew we could run on L.A.," Rondo said. "L.A., given the personnel that we have, we thought we could outrun them."

This victory also put the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics (36-11) well ahead of the Lakers (33-15) in the overall NBA standings.

You know, just in case.

"If we had home court last year, who knows maybe what happens in Game 7?" Pierce asked. "We're not looking ahead, but maybe if it comes down to another Game 7, maybe we'll have it at home."

Heat 108, Thunder 103

At Oklahoma City, Dwyane Wade scored 32 points and Eddie House hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 22.2 seconds left as Miami got its Big 3 back together to beat Oklahoma City.

LeBron James added 23 points and 13 rebounds, Chris Bosh scored 20 points in his first game back after a four-game absence and the Heat snapped Oklahoma City's home winning streak at six. Kevin Durant scored 33 points but missed a contested jumper along the left baseline that would've tied it. Jeff Green had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook added 21 points and 10 assists.

Suns 104, Hornets 102

At Phoenix, backup center Marcin Gortat scored a career-high 25 points and Phoenix beat a team with a winning record for the fourth straight time, surviving New Orleans' frantic late rally.

The Suns nearly blew an eight-point lead in the final 18 seconds, but Grant Hill blocked Marcus Thornton's inside attempt with 3.9 seconds left and Hornets guard Chris Paul's desperation 3-point attempt missed the rim as time expired. Paul led New Orleans with 26 points. The Hornets were coming off a loss Saturday night in Sacramento that snapped their winning streak at 10.

Magic 103, Cavaliers 87

At Orlando, Fla., Dwight Howard had 20 points and 20 rebounds in three quarters of work, Ryan Anderson added 23 points and 16 rebounds and Orlando handed Cleveland its 20th straight loss and 30th in 31 games.

Howard had his 36th double-double of the season by halftime.

Knicks 124, Pistons 106

At New York, Amare Stoudemire scored 33 points despite a sprained right knee, rookie Timofey Mozgov had career highs of 23 points and 14 rebounds in his first appearance in three weeks for New York.

Danilo Gallinari added 29 points for the Knicks, who seized control early in the fourth quarter after it was tied through three. He made two 3-pointers in a decisive 12-2 burst to open the final period and New York went on to win for the third time in four games. Ben Gordon made seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 35 points for Detroit. The Pistons have lost three in a row.

76ers 110, Nuggets 99

At Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala scored 24 points and Thaddeus Young had 21 for Philadelphia.

Elton Brand added 15 points to help the 76ers sweep the season series for the first time since 2002-03.

Warriors 96, Jazz 81

At Oakland, Calif., Stephen Curry had 27 points and seven assists and Golden State overcame scoring leader Monta Ellis' horrendous shooting performance to beat undermanned Utah.

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