Two historic rivals looked to turn back the clock Thursday night at TD Garden, but only one team kept pace as the Celtics ran away to a 116-95 win.
Already leading 58-44 at halftime, the Celtics dropped a 37-point third quarter on the visiting Los Angeles Lakers to blow the game wide open. Paul Pierce, Boston's leading scorer in the game, scored 12 of his 24 points in the period as the Celtics extended their lead to 26 points heading into the final frame. Pierce briefly dueled with Kobe Bryant, who scored 27 for the visitors, but the game was too lopsided to bring back memories of the NBA Finals series these teams played in 2008 and 2010.
With a turnaround jump shot with 8:09 remaining in the 2d quarter, Kevin Garnett reached 25,000 points for his career. He's 16th on the NBA's scoring list, behind Jerry West (25,192). Garnett's path to 25,000 was delayed a bit Thursday when he picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter defending Lakers center Dwight Howard. With the milestone Garnett became the only player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks, and 1,500 steals.
The Lakers made just 17 of 45 shots (38 percent) in the first half as the Celtics built their lead. Inept Lakers offense was countered by an adept Celtics attack. The Celtics made 51 percent of their shots from the field and had 13 assists to just two turnovers. Only foul trouble -- the Celtics committed 16 -- and eight offensive rebounds for the Lakers showed as blemishes for the home team.
Howard was a gametime decision but did start, and early on it looked as if he'd be a handful, drawing fouls on Garnett, Jason Collins, and Chris Wilcox. But Howard didn't look himself, finishing with 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 turnovers before fouling out.
Former glory was the story of the evening, but coming into the night both teams had been playing very well. The Lakers had won seven of eight, while the Celtics extended their win streak to six games with the victory.
2:12 4th quarter, Celtics 109-86:Now we get the real Gino.
3:18 4th quarter, Celtics 107-84: Fab Melo has checked into the game. Might as well be Gino checking in.
5:07 4th quarter, Celtics 105-80: Dwight Howard has fouled out of the game with 9 points and 9 rebounds. He made 1 of 6 free throws.
9:46 4th quarter, Celtics 99-71: Almost to 100. Imagine Pierce is done for the night. Garnett can't be far behind.
End 3d quarter, Celtics 95-69: The Celtics haven't played this well in..I can't remember when. Avery Bradley is everywhere with his defense. Pierce is unconscious from the field. What a show.
3:35 3d quarter, Celtics 79-63: Pierce is taking over. He's got 19 points, seven in this quarter.
5:52 3d quarter, Celtics 70-57: Garnett has 15 points and 5 rebounds. Pierce has 12 points and 6 rebounds. It will be interesting to see if Jeff Green can come in and be as effective he was in the first half.
9:06 3d quarter, Celtics 60-48: Bryant is making some impossible shots with Lee draped all over him. Good defense by Courtney.
On the defensive end there's a lot of good. The Lakers are shooting 38 percent, though they've got seven offensive rebounds and have gotten lots of extra chances. There's also the issue of foul trouble. Collins and Wilcox have three fouls. Pierce, Garnett, and Bass each have two.
2:01 2d quarter, Celtics 55-40: The Celtics have turned the ball over only once. Now if only they could fix their fouling problem.
3:02 2d quarter, Celtics 51-40: Jeff Green is being aggressive taking the ball to the basket, and it's working. He's got 11 points. This is some of his best basketball of the season.
5:41 2d quarter, Celtics 43-34: Garnett's got his 25,000 points. Fitting that he did it with a turnaround jumper, with 8:09 remaining in the quarter, over Earl Clark.
Jared Sullinger is in the building watching the game.
10:26 2d quarter, Celtics 33-25:KG is back in the game and making his presence known. He's got two quick baskets.
Avery Bradley walked back to the locker room with team doctor Brian McKeon between quarters. Bradley just walked back to the bench.
End 1st quarter, Celtics 27-24: Paul Pierce is Boston's clear MVP so far. He's got 10 points and 4 rebounds. Chris Wilcox gave the Celtics some good energy off the bench with two offensive rebounds. He was wide open in the middle on one play and couldn't handle a hot pass, a reminder that his thumb is still not quite right.
Kobe Bryant has 8 points and 6 rebounds for the Lakers.
2:08 1st quarter, Celtics 23-20: So much for fouls not catching up to the Celtics. Jason Collins now has three. Chris Wilcox in the game, he's got two.
5:20 1st quarter, Celtics 14-11: Paul Pierce is being a jack-of-all-trades again this evening. He's got 6 points, 1 assist, and 1 rebound. He found Jason Collins on a nifty drive to the hoop that drew Howard and left Collins wide open. The Lakers have not attempted a free throw since putting the Celtics over the limit.
9:25 1st quarter, Celtics 4-2: Dwight Howard draws two quick fouls on Kevin Garnett and another on his sub, Jason Collins. The Celtics have five total fouls and are over the limit already.
10:17 1st quarter, Celtics 4-2: Courtney Lee starts the game on Kobe Bryant, while Avery Bradley covers Steve Nash.
Pregame: It's official: Dwight Howard is starting at center for the Lakers tonight.... The Celtics honored Doc Rivers on the plane home from Toronto Wednesday night by presenting him with the game ball. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stood up and said a few words. ...There's more media embedded with the Lakers here at TD Garden than covering the Celtics. What a circus. ... It's Steve Nash's 39th birthday today.