Celtics Shake Off Slow Start to Win

From Associated Press

Boston Celtic Coach Jim O'Brien said he didn't care about starting lineups, because what really matters is who's on the floor when the game is on the line.

Maybe he ought to care about it a little more.

The Celtics recovered from a horrendous start to beat Sacramento on Sunday night, erasing a 15-2 deficit by the end of the first quarter and winning, 91-82, at Boston to end a three-game losing streak.

"We got off to a bad start, and we kept on fighting until we got it right," O'Brien said after Boston beat the Kings for the first time in seven tries. "The guys that we started did not get the job done at the beginning of the game."

Vin Baker had 18 points, Paul Pierce scored 17 and Raef LaFrentz had nine points and nine rebounds. Baker also had 13 rebounds -- his most since joining the Celtics last summer with high expectations before ending the season in a rehab center for alcohol abuse.

"He looks like he's back, and that's great," King guard Doug Christie said. "I know he's gone through a lot and worked very hard. But it looks like it paid off for him, and I'm very happy for him."

After the Kings made nine of their first 12 shots, O'Brien subbed Mark Blount for Tony Battie and later brought in Jiri Welsch for Kedrick Brown, LaFrentz for Baker and Eric Williams for Pierce.

Williams, who sat out the previous three games because of a hyperextended knee, finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

"People don't realize how big he is to this team," Pierce said.


Indiana 85, Philadelphia 74 -- Ron Artest scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds at Philadelphia to lead the Pacers to their fifth straight win.

Jermaine O'Neal added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, whose 13-point first-quarter lead turned into a five-point deficit beginning the fourth quarter. But Artest and O'Neal led the Pacers on an 18-4 run to take control.


Detroit 98, New Jersey 84 -- Richard Hamilton scored 24 points at Detroit, Corliss Williamson added 20 off the bench and the Pistons won their fifth in a row.

It was the first meeting between the teams since New Jersey's sweep in the Eastern Conference finals last season.


Toronto 89, Denver 76 -- Vince Carter had 34 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the Raptors at Toronto.

Carter went 14 for 22 from the field for the Raptors, who improved to 4-0 at home and 4-2 for the season.


Atlanta 91, Seattle 81 -- Jason Terry scored 23 points at Seattle as the SuperSonics lost for the first time this season.

It was Atlanta's first road win of the season after losing its first four games away from home.

Seattle was the league's last unbeaten team, winning its first three games while averaging 111 points. Ronald Murray scored 24 points in his fourth start in place of the injured Ray Allen.

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