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November 3, 2009

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Unbeaten Celtics top Hornets

PAUL Pierce sparked the unbeaten Boston Celtics with 27 points in a 97-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday.

Boston (4-0) broke a 74-74 tie with six consecutive points in the fourth quarter to take control.

But it took a 10-3 run keyed by Pierce and Kevin Garnett late in the quarter to finish off the pesky Hornets (1-2), who got 26 points from Peja Stojakovic, including the visitors' first 11 points of the quarter

"It went through KG (Garnett) and Paul and it really was a two-man game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters. "We basically said if they switch, post them; if they don't, Paul, turn the corner."

Overall, though, Rivers was not pleased with the way the Celtics played. "So far this year, we've done a great job of each game building and improving. This was not one of those nights. We absolutely didn't improve tonight. We just won a game."

Elsewhere in the National Basketball Association, it was: Heat 95, Bulls 87; Lakers 118, Hawks 110; Nuggets 133, Grizzlies 123; Suns 120, Timberwolves 112; Magic 125, Raptors 116; and Trail Blazers 83, Thunder 74.

In Boston, Ray Allen added 17 points for the Celtics with Garnett scoring 14 and Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace getting 12 each.

Garnett also had seven rebounds and five assists, three in the key fourth-quarter run. "That's what I'm in there for," Garnett said. "I'm in there trying to wreak havoc on defense and then trying to make it easy for everybody else."

Stojakovic, who had six three-pointers for the game, did not start for the Hornets but made his presence felt in the second half.

From the 3:15 mark of the third quarter until six minutes remained in the game, he scored 16 of New Orleans's 23 points.

Hornets guard Chris Paul added 22 points and eight assists for the game but New Orleans coach Byron Scott said they needed more help to beat the Celtics.

"The one thing I told our guys, I said, 'That is truly a team over there'," Scott said. "They talk to each other on the floor. They communicate extremely well. They cover each other's back. We are a team right now that has a bunch of individuals that are playing."


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