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November 5, 2009

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Celtics stay perfect as Sixers take a mauling

THE Boston Celtics maintained their perfect start to the season by trouncing the Philadelphia 76ers 105-74 on the back of a dominant defensive display and sharp three-point shooting.

Paul Pierce had 21 points and eight rebounds, while key reserve Rasheed Wallace made six three-pointers in his 20-point effort as the Celtics outscored the home team 61-38 in the second half.

The Celtics' miserly defense, which has not conceded more than 90 points this year, held the 76ers to just 36 percent in shooting from the field. "It starts with defense for us," Boston center Kendrick Perkins told reporters. "We know we're going to get our points. In the Eastern Conference, it's about getting stops."

The Celtics are unbeaten in five games, even without the usual standout performances from Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

Allen didn't score his first field goal until the third quarter and had five points. Garnett made just one basket on seven shots and scored three points when he was yanked with the game out of hand.

Andre Iguodala shot 17 points for Philadelphia, which fell to 2-2 on the season.

Elsewhere in the National Basketball Association, it was: Nuggets 111, Pacers93; Cavaliers 102, Wizards 90; Suns 104, Heat 96; Pistons 85, Magic 80; Bulls 83, Brewers 81; Lakers 101, Thunder 98 (in overtime); Mavericks 96, Jazz 85; and Hawks 97, Trail Blazers 91.

In Philadelphia, the Celtics raced to a 58-38 lead in the third quarter and kept the 76ers at bay, making 57 percent of their shots from the field, including 14-for-20 from the three-point line.

Eddie House made four three-pointers off the bench for 12 points, while Wallace, the seven-footer signed by the Celtics from Detroit in the offseason, was dominant from the perimeter.

Point guard Rajon Rondo finished with 11 points and five assists in his first game since signing a five-year extension with Boston on Monday.

Philadelphia point guard Lou Williams, who has taken over the starting spot after Andre Miller's departure to Portland, entered the night averaging 20 points and shooting 63 percent but managed just seven on 3-for-10 shooting.

In Indianapolis, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and Chauncey Billups added 24 to help the Nuggets beat the Pacers for their best start in 24 years.

Anthony, who was averaging 38 points, shot just 6-for-17 from the field but made 11 of 14 free throws. Nene added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets (4-0), who are off to their best start since the 1985-86 season.

Former Denver guard Dahntay Jones led the Pacers (0-3) with 20 points, and Danny Granger added 18.

In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 27 points and Shaquille O'Neal added a season-high 21 while wearing out Washington's big men as Cleveland beat Washington for its third straight win.

Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas scored 22 apiece to lead the Wizards.


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