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Celtics notch key win over Cavaliers

THE Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-94 yesterday to get what could be a vital edge in the head-to-head record between the NBA Eastern Conference's two power teams.

Paul Pierce scored 29 points and reserve Leon Powe had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics.

The Cavaliers (48-13) lead Boston (49-14) in winning percentage .787 to .778, but the Celtics took a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head record with one game between them remaining. Should the teams finish level in win-loss record after the regular season, head-to-head record would be used to determine home court and other advantages in the playoffs.

Mo Williams scored 26 for Cleveland and LeBron James had 21, shooting just 5-of-15 from the field to go with 9-for-12 from the line. He spent the final minutes on the bench after the Cavaliers couldn't narrow a double-digit deficit.

Magic 105, Nets 102

In Orlando, Florida, Orlando rallied to edge New Jersey and notch a third consecutive victory.

Dwight Howard had 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Magic.

The Nets went 1-for-8 over the last 6:16, with Vince Carter missing a potential tying 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired.

Bobcats 98, Hawks 91

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte built on a 36-21 first quarter to beat struggling Atlanta and bring up a franchise record-tying fifth straight victory.

The Bobcats continued their late-season surge under first-year coach Larry Brown that's put them into playoff contention. They took advantage of the bumbling Hawks, who played without starter Josh Smith in the second half after an argument with his coach at halftime.

Gerald Wallace scored 21 points to lead the Bobcats.

Heat 108, Raptors 102

In Toronto, Miami snapped a six-game losing streak against Toronto.

Dwyane Wade had 42 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Heat. Wade shot 17-for-23 and topped 40 points for the fourth time in seven games. The NBA's leading scorer came in averaging 35.8 points since the All-Star break, also top in the league.

The Raptors have lost four straight.

Pistons 108, Warriors 91

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Detroit made it four wins in a row by easing past Golden State.

Richard Hamilton scored 22 points for the Pistons, who got points from all 12 players

The Warriors lost for the fifth time in six games.


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