Wolves fall short to Boston
By JIMMY GOLEN,
BOSTON (AP) Paul Pierce wasn’t going to let the Boston Celtics lose to another struggling team.
Pierce scored 29 points, tying a franchise record by hitting all six of his 3-point attempts, and the Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-104 on Sunday night.
One game after snapping an 11-game winning streak with a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the No. 14 team in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics reached a season-high in points against the worst team in the West.
“We were ticked (off) and we were mad,” said Kevin Garnett. “It definitely is fuel for the next practice, if not the next game. You can’t win them all, but you can apply those things to the game, and I thought we came out focused tonight.”
The Celtics opened a 15-point lead in the first quarter before Pierce scored 14 points in the second, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to open a 25-point halftime advantage. Pierce, who has averaged 22.7 points over his 12-year career, hadn’t topped that total in 10 games since Thanksgiving.
“I really got tired of Kevin yelling at me,” Pierce said, before dropping his voice in an imitation of Garnett and yelling, “What’s going on with you? Pick it up!”
Garnett laughed and said, “It wasn’t a yell. It was a real strong, stern voice.”
“Nothing that ‘The Truth’ can’t handle, though,” he said. “Sometimes that’s what teammates are for.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he also told Pierce, who scored only nine points in Friday night’s loss to the Sixers, to get back to his instincts instead of trying to figure out ways to get everyone involved. The team watched film after the loss – a rarity during the regular season – and Rivers put together a sequence of all the uncontested shots.
“There were a lot of them,” Rivers said. “It was good for them to see.”
Pierce matched the franchise record for 3-pointers without a miss set by Danny Ainge and matched by Walter McCarty.
Kendrick Perkins had 14 points to go with 11 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 15 assists as the Celtics beat the Timberwolves for the sixth consecutive time since acquiring Garnett in an unprecedented 7-for-1 deal during the summer of 2007.
Jonny Flynn scored 21 points and former Celtic Al Jefferson had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Love added 15 points and 11 boards for the Timberwolves, who lost for the sixth time in eight games.
“I hope it teaches us a lesson that we were lethargic in the first half. We didn’t play with any energy,” Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said. “It’s very, very tough to try and come back in a ballgame. That’s why you don’t want to get down to anybody, especially a quality team like the Celtics.”
Rivers began pulling his starters after the Celtics opened a 26-point lead late in the third quarter. But he sent them back in midway through the fourth when Minnesota scored nine straight points to cut the deficit to 13 points, 101-88. The Timberwolves never got any closer than 12, and the starters returned to the bench after Pierce hit his final 3-pointer with 3:23 left to make it a 19-point lead.
Tony Allen, in his sixth game since missing 20 with a sore right ankle, had a season-high 15 points, including the highlight of the night.
Early in the second quarter, Eddie House poked the ball away from Ramon Sessions and saved it from going out of bounds with a behind-the-back pass that sent Allen in for a dunk to start a three-point play.
NOTES: With his first point of the game, Ray Allen moved past Tom Chambers and into 32nd place on the NBA’s career scoring list. … Minnesota fell to 3-12 on the road – worst in the Western Conference. … Timberwolves F Ryan Gomes missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. … The game was played with two referees because the snowstorm prevented Leon Wood from making it to Boston. … The Celtics recalled G Lester Hudson from Maine of the NBDL.
Updated December 20, 2009