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Celtics back on winning track

RAJON Rondo and Paul Pierce each scored 16 points as the visiting Boston Celtics bounced back from their first loss of the NBA season to beat the winless New Jersey Nets 86-76 yesterday.

Their defense was back - and it needed to be, because the Celtics couldn't shoot for most of the game. Boston finished with 20 steals, five by Rondo, scoring 19 points off New Jersey's 24 turnovers.

The Celtics beat the Nets for the 10th straight time. Brook Lopez scored 23 points for the Nets.

Hawks 125, Nuggets 100

At Atlanta, Jamal Crawford scored 25 points, and Josh Smith had 22 points, nine rebounds, six blocked shots and seven assists for Atlanta.

Joe Johnson added 21 points, and Marvin Williams had 14.

Carmelo Anthony had 30 points for Denver, and Chauncey Billups added 25. The Nuggets have lost two straight after opening 5-0.

Mavericks 129, Raptors 101

At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and nine rebounds, and Josh Howard scored 16 in his season debut for Dallas following ankle and wrist injures.

Jason Terry added 19 points, and Shawn Marion had 18 points and eight rebounds for Dallas. Dallas native Chris Bosh had 26 points and 12 rebounds for Toronto.

Bulls 93, Bobcats 90

At Chicago, John Salmons scored 27 points, and Joakim Noah added a career-high 21 and had 16 rebounds in Chicago's third straight win.

The Bulls had a 16-0 run in the third and fourth quarters that turned a nine-point deficit into a seven-point lead at 77-70.

Boris Diaw led Charlotte with 20 points.

Kings 104, Jazz 99

At Salt Lake City, Tyreke Evans scored a career-high 32 points as Sacramento held off Utah in the Kings' first game without high-scoring guard Kevin Martin.

Evans, the fourth overall pick in the June draft, became the focal point of the Kings' offense in place of Martin, who averaged 30.6 points in the first five games. Martin will have surgery tomorrow to repair a fracture in his left wrist.

Deron Williams had 29 points and 15 assists for Utah.

Bucks 102, Knicks 87

At Milwaukee, Andrew Bogut scored a season-high 22 points and had eight rebounds, and rookie Jodie Meeks added 19 points for Milwaukee.

Rookie Brandon Jennings added 17 points to help the Bucks improve to 3-2. David Lee had 18 points and seven rebounds for New York (1-6).

Clippers 113, Grizzlies 110

At Los Angeles, Chris Kaman had 26 points and nine rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers win their third straight game - equaling its longest winning streak last season.

The Grizzlies were without 10-time All-Star point guard Allen Iverson, whose current status as a backup behind Mike Conley - and Iverson's subsequent comments on the matter - have cast a cloud over coach Lionel Hollins' 1-6 club.

The four-time NBA scoring champ, who has played in only three games for his new team after injuring a hamstring, received permission from team owner Michael Heisley to return home to Atlanta and attend to personal business.

Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 33 points.


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