Celtics send Cavs to 18th straight loss

BOSTON — Paul Pierce scored 24 and Kendrick Perkins returned for the first time since injuring his knee in the NBA finals to help the Boston Celtics beat Cleveland 112-95 on Tuesday night and send the Cavaliers to their 18th consecutive loss.

Perkins, who had offseason surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament, had seven points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.

Ray Allen scored 18 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 assists for Boston, which bounced back from a loss to the lowly Washington Wizards.

It was the Cavs' first time back in Boston since losing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to end the LeBron James era in Cleveland. That was the second time in three years the Celtics knocked the Cavaliers out of the playoffs.

Nuggets 120, Wizards 109

At Washington, Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Nene and Al Harrington each scored 21 and the Nuggets beat the Wizards.

It was the sixth win in the last eight games for Denver, which began a five-game road trip with a strong performance that comes amid continued trade talk surrounding Anthony.

Anthony shot just 8 for 20, but six Nuggets scored in double figures. Arron Afflalo had 18 points, Ty Lawson added 17 and Chauncey Billups finished with 15.

Denver put together a 17-2 run to take a a 24-10 lead with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter and led 68-56 at halftime.

Mavericks 112, Clippers 105

At Dallas, Jason Terry scored a season-high 28 points and J.J. Barea added 25, lifting the Mavericks to the victory.

The performance by the reserve guards helped Dallas erase an early 15-point deficit. The Mavs turned things around with a 23-6 spurt in the third quarter, then put together a 14-0 run in the fourth.

The Clippers announced during the first half that a wrist injury will sideline Eric Gordon for at least three weeks. He's their leading scorer at 24.1 points, eighth-best in the NBA.

Bobcats 94, Kings 89

At Sacramento, Calif., Stephen Jackson scored 21 points and Kwame Brown had a season-high 18 rebounds to lead the Bobcats to a win over the Kings.

The win was the third in four games for the Bobcats, who are 9-6 since Paul Silas was named interim head coach on Dec. 22 replacing Larry Brown.

Brown had 13 points and his 18 rebounds were one short of his career high, which came as a Washington Wizards in a March 17, 2004 victory over the Kings.

Lakers 120, Jazz 91

At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 21 points in three quarters and the Los Angeles Lakers led all the way in defeating Utah, handing the Jazz their fifth straight loss overall and on the road.

Pau Gasol added 20 points, Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Lamar Odom scored 17 off the bench for the Lakers, who won their seventh in a row at home.

Deron Williams scored 17 points and C.J. Miles added 14 for Utah, which has lost its last nine against the Lakers at Staples Center.

The Lakers had the game in hand after the first quarter, when they shot 72 percent from the floor, hit all three of their 3-pointers and went 8 of 10 on free throws while building a 17-point lead.

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