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Pierce, Rondo lead Celtics over Bulls 107-86

PAUL Pierce scored 24 points and Rajon Rondo added 20 and the defending champion Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 107-86 yesterday to take a 2-1 lead in their NBA first-round playoff series.

The teams split two dramatic games in Boston, but this one never really was in doubt. The Celtics led by 11 after one quarter and 22 at the half on their way to an easy win.

Rondo looked just fine after spraining his right ankle in Game 2 and missing practice Tuesday, turning in another dominant postseason performance. Besides hitting eight of 15 shots, he had 11 rebounds and six assists. He's now averaging 22.7 points, 9.7 assists and 10.7 rebounds in the series.

The Bulls committed 22 turnovers, shot 37.5 percent from the field and were 17-of-27 at the line after going 46-of-51 in the first two games. Ben Gordon scored 15 on 5-of-13 shooting after pouring in 42 in Game 2, while John Salmons added 14.

Mavericks 88, Spurs 67

At Dallas, Erick Dampier and Dallas Mavericks overcame San Antonio with tight defense and take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Dampier drew the scrutiny of the league office for saying he would pop Tony Parker on his first drive of this game. Dampier ended up going the whole game without colliding with Parker - although he did swat away a shot during a frenzied first-half defensive performance by the Mavericks.

San Antonio finished with its fewest points in a playoff game, while it was the fewest Dallas ever allowed in the postseason. The Mavericks improved to 16-1 at home since the All-Star break, and to 7-1 in games following 20-point losses.

Dirk Nowitzki had 20 points and seven rebounds, hitting the bench for good once Dallas' lead reached 30. Parker was San Antonio's leading scorer with just 12 points - down from 38 the previous game.


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