OKLAHOMA CITY – Paul Pierce scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Ricky Davis added 26 points, and the Boston Celtics never trailed in a 101-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

Mark Blount tied a season high with 19 points off the bench and fellow reserve Al Jefferson had 16 points, his highest output of the season.

Leading by 11 points at halftime, the Celtics pulled away in the third quarter with an 11-4 run started by Pierce’s free throw after a technical foul.

Pierce added two more foul shots, Jefferson had a follow shot and a two-handed dunk, and Davis had two free throws before capping the run with a 3-pointer from the right wing that gave Boston its largest lead, 79-63.

David West cut the deficit to 83-73 with his jumper to start the fourth quarter, but New Orleans never got closer.

Before Boston’s run, the Hornets missed five of their 12 free throw attempts to start the second half. Boston made its first 12 from the line after halftime.

West led New Orleans with 29 points and Chris Paul added 16 points and 10 rebounds. New Orleans trailed by at least six points for the final three quarters and lost its third in a row. The Hornets also had a three-game home winning streak snapped.

Both teams had season lows with 73 points in their last game, but Boston quickly found its offense and took a 59-48 halftime lead after shooting 55 percent in the first half.

After New Orleans’ Chris Andersen drew a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk, the Celtics responded with a 12-2 run to take a 38-26 lead after a pair of free throws by Blount.

Rasual Butler pulled the Hornets within 44-38 with back-to-back baskets, but the Hornets never got closer.

The Hornets tied the game seven times early on, but Raef LaFrentz put the Celtics ahead to stay when he tipped in Davis’ missed 3-pointer to make it 20-18 with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.

Lakers 102, Raptors 91

TORONTO – Lamar Odom scored 19 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 102-91 Wednesday night despite Kobe Bryant’s lowest-scoring game of the season.

Bryant sat out the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points for the Lakers, who put the game out of reach by outscoring Toronto 31-18 in the third quarter.

Luke Walton added a season-high 13 points and six rebounds for the Lakers, who have won three straight.

Los Angeles won at Milwaukee on Tuesday night and didn’t get to its hotel until 3 a.m. But the Lakers outrebounded Toronto 48-33 and shot 54 percent, compared to 41 for Toronto.

Chris Bosh had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who fell to 3-17.

Odom had nine points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer that capped a 10-2 run to start the period. Sasha Vujacic’s 3-pointer, Walton’s three-point play and Smush Parker’s 3-pointer gave Los Angeles a 19-point lead with 1:22 left in the third.

Nets 97, Bobcats 84

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Vince Carter overcame a sore ankle and knee to score 23 points and lead the New Jersey Nets over the Charlotte Bobcats 97-84 on Wednesday night.

The win was the 1,000th in franchise history for the Nets and improved them to 5-0 against the Bobcats.

Charlotte, meanwhile, has dropped five straight.

The Nets needed Carter to snap their two-game losing streak that included a humiliating 95-82 loss to Toronto on Saturday night. Carter was injured in that game, briefly leaving after tweaking his ankle, only to return and later complain of a swollen knee.

If either was bothering him against the Bobcats, Carter didn’t let it show. He shot 10-for-21 and had seven rebounds in 38 minutes.

And he played hard until the end, missing a dunk late in the game and watching Emeka Okafor grab the rebound. But before Okafor could push the ball out, Carter swatted it out of his hands and helped the Nets convert it into another basket.

Richard Jefferson finished with 21 points for the Nets. Nenad Krstic had 17 and Jason Kidd finished with 11 points and 11 assists.

Bucks 88, 76ers 85

PHILADELPHIA – Andrew Bogut’s go-ahead putback with 10.7 seconds left capped a frantic fourth-quarter rally and led the Milwaukee Bucks over the Philadelphia 76ers 88-85 on Wednesday night.

Michael Redd scored 24 points, and Maurice Williams sank two clutch free throws in the final minute and scored 16 for the Bucks, who blew an 18-point first-half lead before completing an impressive comeback of their own.

With Milwaukee down seven points with just over 2 minutes left, Redd got the Bucks rolling with two free throws and a layup that pulled them within three.

Then John Salmons foolishly fouled Williams on a 3-point attempt with 23 seconds left, and the reserve guard calmly made the first two and missed the last one to make it 85-84.

Jazz 95, Hawks 83

SALT LAKE CITY – Andrei Kirilenko scored 14 points and matched his career high with 10 assists, and the Utah Jazz ended a four-game home losing streak by beating the woeful Atlanta Hawks 95-83 Wednesday night.

Matt Harpring added a season-high 30 points and reserve Milt Palacio had 10 points and nine assists for the Jazz, who had a 37-29 rebounding advantage and forced 21 turnovers.

Utah hasn’t lost five straight at home since 1982 and had the right team in town to prevent that from changing.

Atlanta had the worst record in the league entering the game and was coming off a 125-116 loss the night before at Denver.

At 2-16, the Hawks are off to the worst start in team history – even worse than their 3-15 record after 18 games a year ago. Atlanta has lost seven straight, going 0-3 on a swing through Phoenix, Denver and Utah.

Salim Stoudamire led Atlanta with 15 points.


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