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Celtics cheer after Nuggets mauling

THE Boston Celtics roared away from the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter and cruised to a crushing 114-76 victory on Monday.

Ray Allen scored 26 points and Paul Pierce added 22 as the Celtics gained revenge for a 94-85 loss to the Nuggets in Boston last November and pulled a game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the tight Eastern Conference race.

The Cavaliers (43-11) have the better percentage mark but have played fewer games than the Celtics (46-12).

"I think we had the right focus coming into the game," Rajon Rondo, who had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, told reporters.

"Doc (Celtics coach Doc Rivers) gave a great motivational speech. He told us they bullied us last time."

The win was the second in a row for Boston without injured forward Kevin Garnett, who is out two to three weeks with a knee injury.

"It's almost like we took it personal from the time when they came in our house and beat us, so it was definitely a get-back game," Pierce said.

Nuggets coach George Karl agreed.

"We caught a team that was angry," Karl said. "They wanted to beat us. They wanted to embarrass us. They were more physical than us. They went at us pretty good."

The loss was the worst since the Chicago Bulls defeated the Nuggets by 39 points in 1998.

J.R. Smith had 19 points and Carmelo Anthony 18 for Denver, the third-placed Western Conference team which was returning home from an eight-game road trip.

After outscoring the Nuggets 29-20 in the first period, the Celtics went on a 10-0 run late in the second to claim a 59-36 advantage on Pierce's three-pointer with 27 seconds left in the half.

In New Jersey, Devin Harris hit an unbelievable, lunging half-court shot at the buzzer as the New Jersey Nets snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 98-96 victory over the slumping Philadelphia 76ers.

With players from both teams surrounding the scorer's table, the referees watched replays of Harris' shot for nearly three minutes before signaling the basket was good.

Seconds earlier, the 76ers seemingly nailed down the victory when Andre Iguodala sank the second of two free throws to give them a one-point lead with 1.8 seconds to play. The Nets quickly inbounded the ball to Harris, who bobbled it after bumping with Iguodala and then heaved in the winner from in front of the scorer's table.

Harris finished with a game-high 39 points, but his 22nd shot of the night will be one Nets fans remember.

In New York, Nate Robinson scored a season-high 41 points, including the tiebreaking layup with 26 seconds left, as New York beat Indiana 123-119.

Robinson scored 32 in the second half, helping the Knicks pull out a game against a team missing most of its best players. Al Harrington added 27 points and David Lee had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks.

Jarrett Jack scored a season-high 33 points and Marquis Daniels matched a season best with 28 for the Pacers, who had won two in a row overall and four in a row at Madison Square Garden.

Troy Murphy had 19 points and 21 rebounds for the Pacers.

Elsewhere in the NBA, it was: Jazz 108, Hawks 89; Hornets 112, Kings 105; and Clippers 118, Warriors 105.


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