BOSTON (AP) — Paul Pierce had 17 points and eight assists and the Boston Celtics crept above .500 for the first time this season with a 100-64 rout of the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
Ray Allen and Brandon Bass added 12 points apiece and Avery Bradley scored 11 for the Celtics, who never let go of the lead once Allen’s layup 16 seconds into the game put Boston up 2-0.
After starting the season 0-3, the Celtics bounced along for more than a month before finally reaching a winning record with Wednesday’s rout. At 11-10, the Celtics hardly appear bound to hang another banner from the Garden rafters, but they do seem to have adjusted to the lockout-shortened schedule and quick turnaround between games.
Boston also improved to 6-2 without point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been out with an injured right wrist.
The Celtics led by as much as 40 and the wide margin gave Boston starters a chance for some much-needed rest after surviving a close call in Cleveland the night before.
The Celtics almost wasted a 22-point lead against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night, but never let up on the Raptors.
Jerryd Bayless scored 14 and Ed Davis finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. They were the only two Toronto players to score in double figures.
Boston won for the sixth time in seven games and showed the consistency that was missing in the previous two, a split of back-to-back games against Cleveland.
The Celtics blew an 11-point lead in the final 4:25 in an 88-87 loss at home to the Cavaliers on Sunday, ending a four-game winning streak, and nearly did it again on Tuesday night in Cleveland. The Celtics led by 16 entering the fourth quarter Tuesday, but managed to hold off the Cavaliers this time, winning 93-90.
There appeared to be no lingering effects from a late flight home when the Celtics took the court Wednesday night.
The Celtics shot 62 percent (23 for 37) in the first half, making 7 of 11 3-pointers, while taking a 57-35 halftime lead. Pierce and Sasha Pavlovic hit a pair each from beyond the arc and Kevin Garnett added a 3-pointer with a half-second left before the buzzer to give Boston its largest lead of the night.
Pierce also had six of Boston’s 17 assists in the half as the Celtics passed the ball on nearly every possession and shared the scoring. Reserve Brandon Bass was the only Boston player to score in double figures in the half with 10 points.
The onslaught continued in the third quarter as Pierce and Allen delivered back-to-back 3-pointers during an 11-2 run that put Boston up 77-47 with 3:23 left in the period.
Pierce needs 60 points to tie Larry Bird for second in all-time scoring for the Celtics with 21,791 points.
Notes: Boston’s 57 points in the first half were a season high. … Rondo hurt his wrist when he hit the floor on a flagrant foul by Linas Kleiza in a win over Toronto on Jan. 18. … Coach Doc Rivers said Rondo could return Friday when the Celtics host the Knicks. … Rivers said Sunday’s noon start against Memphis gives him a dilemma on how to handle practice on Saturday. He said he would prefer a night game, but given that it’s Super Bowl Sunday and the New England Patriots are playing, he had a realistic outlook. “Obviously, I don’t think anybody would watch or come, but it would be nice for us because then you could actually have a pretty good practice.”