'Big Baby' steps into starting lineup to lead Celtics past Kings

BOSTON (AP) -- Breathtaking. That's a good way to describe the Boston Celtics' 18-2 start.

The first start by rookie Glen Davis, "Big Baby" to his teammates, wasn't much different.

"Baby was good after hyperventilating through the first half. He was terrific," coach Doc Rivers said after Davis had his best game as a pro to spark the Celtics to a 90-78 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

No wonder.

The soft-spoken hulk of a center was a bit starry-eyed to be starting alongside Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Davis got the chance because Kendrick Perkins hurt his right big toe in a freak accident when he dropped his bed on it after it tilted to one side and he tried to fix it.

"You think all kinds of things," said Davis, who came to Boston as a second-round draft pick from LSU with a power game and a cute nickname. "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. You don't want to mess up. So just breathe in and breathe out, absorb it. This is a beautiful thing here."

The young-looking 289-pound center had 16 points and nine rebounds, and made all 10 of his free throws as Boston matched the best 20-game start in franchise history and improved to 11-0 at home.

"Baby was huge tonight," Garnett said. "He kept a lot of balls alive. He made youthful mistakes, but they were very aggressive mistakes."

Davis was on the bench when the fourth quarter started and the Celtics clamped down on defense, outscoring the Kings 22-14 in the final period and holding them to their lowest point total in a game this season.

"We were really upset with the way we played [defensively] in the first half and guys wanted to come out in the third and fourth quarters and be more active," Pierce said. "We were able to get turnovers and get a run and open up the game a little bit."

Pierce led Boston with 26 points, Ray Allen had 15 and Garnett added 11. Sacramento, playing its fourth straight game without their injured leading scorer, Kevin Martin, got 16 each from Ron Artest and Beno Udrih and 14 from Brad Miller. Point guard Mike Bibby has been sidelined all season after undergoing thumb surgery.

"Nobody really cares who's out," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "More than anything, it was our shot selection that really put us in a bad spot."

For the first time this season, the Celtics' starting five was different.

And that was a huge difference from last season when they used 26 different starting combinations, went 24-58 and didn't get their 18th win until they had lost 43.

Newcomers Garnett and Allen are the biggest reasons for that. Garnett also has been a mentor to Davis, who made an impact as a reserve before getting his first start.

"Every night I think about it," Davis said. "Just being around him, he's just helped me tremendously, just from the way he walks, the way he talks. You adapt to him. You gravitate to him and that's what I've done."

Boston was leading by just two points before he finished the third quarter with two free throws that made it 68-64.

"The first three quarters we played well," Miller said. "We had to slow these guys down."

The Celtics then pulled away, starting the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that put them ahead 77-66 when they called a time out with 5:10 left.

Their biggest lead was 87-70 on two free throws by Pierce.

The Celtics home start is one win short of their franchise record set in 1984-85. Their best full-season home record is 40-1 in 1985-86 when they won the last of their 16 championships.

"When they make that trip here and look at our record we want them to think twice," Pierce said. "That, in itself, is an intimidation factor."

Sacramento dropped to 0-9 on the road.

"You have to be tough minded to win on the road," Theus said. "You have got to play four good quarters. You can't play three like we did today."

The Celtics were rested after their longest stretch without a game, three days, since they won in Chicago on Saturday night. But the Kings stayed closer than most of their opponents for much of the game before they pulled away for their 15th double-figure win of the season.

Sacramento led 45-44 at halftime after Boston squandered a 31-19 lead in the second quarter. Only outstanding free throw shooting kept it close as the Celtics made all 14 shots from the line. They were way off target from long distance, making just 2 of 15 attempts from 3-point range.

Garnett, limited to 14 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, started the second half and helped Boston take a 56-53 lead by scoring the last three points in a 12-6 run.

Game notes
The Celtics forced 20 turnovers and committed just eight. ... Starting point guard Rajon Rondo was scoreless in 26 minutes for the Celtics. ... Sacramento outshot and outrebounded Boston.