Celtics win second straight since losing streak

BOSTON (AP) -- The Philadelphia 76ers ran with Celtics for one half. Then Boston ran right by them.

Paul Pierce scored 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter to help the Celtics take the lead, and Ray Allen scored 10 of his 23 in the fourth when they pulled away from Philadelphia to win 116-89 on Friday night.

"We played with a lot more passion, especially in the third quarter, the fourth quarter," Pierce said. "We said at halftime, this team's not going anywhere. They play everybody tough, regardless of their record."

Kevin Garnett had 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Boston's second consecutive victory since their only losing streak of the season: a two-game skid -- and three losses in four games -- that has been the only blip for the best team in the league.

And speaking of the best team in the league ...

Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour took in the game from courtside, two days before New England plays the San Diego Chargers in the AFC title game. He received a standing ovation during a second-half timeout when his picture appeared on the scoreboard along with the message: "Good Luck Pats. Beat the Chargers."

The cheers were almost as loud when the board showed a woman in a San Diego jersey being attacked with Silly String by the Celtics mascot, Lucky. By that time, the Celtics had overcome a 12-point first-half deficit and cruised to their NBA-best 32nd win (to go with a league-low six losses).

Andre Iguodala had 17 points, and Samuel Dalembert had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who had lost seven straight before beating Houston on Tuesday. Philadelphia's Reggie Evans made the first 3-pointer of his career after missing all six he had tried since coming into the league in 2002.

The Sixers shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, and 30 percent in the second.

"The first half, they made everything," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "They got to every loose ball, they got to every rebound. They basically outworked us for one half.

"I told them at halftime, 'If we can get some stops, we can put numbers on the board.' "

That they did, scoring five of the last six points in the third quarter and five of the first six in the fourth, getting a jumper and a 3-pointer from Allen early in the final period to take an 83-74 lead.

Eddie House, James Posey and House again hit 3-pointers late in the fourth for Boston to finish off a 17-2 run that turned a 90-85 game into a 107-87 blowout with 2:12 left. Boston also scored the last nine points of the game, with House hitting another 3 in the final minute.

"We had 85 points with five minutes left. We ended up with 89," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "So that shows a lot about their defense."

House, starting in place of injured Rajon Rondo, had 11 points in the fourth. Leon Powe reached season highs with 10 points, six rebounds and a shade under 15 minutes.

"We played better defense, we started moving the ball and guys were aggressive," Garnett said. "Leon came in here with some big minutes; Paul played huge, played so huge he didn't have to play the fourth; Ray played huge for us. Once we got the ball moving, guys were being aggressive, we were making 3s. It was over."

Philadelphia scored 11 straight points near the start of the second quarter to turn a tie game into a 47-36 lead. But the Celtics cut it to three points at halftime, thanks to a pair of steals and a 3-pointer by Allen and a jumper by House in the last 2 seconds that made it 57-54.

The 57 first-half points was one off the season high for a Celtics opponent.

Game notes
Rondo sat out for the third time in four games because of a sore back. Rookie Gabe Pruitt started in his place. ... Garnett hurt his hand against the backboard late in the second quarter, but he shook it off and appeared to be OK. ... Garnett blocked two shots to pass Vlade Divac and move into 23rd on the career list.