NEW YORK – Paul Pierce scored 39 points and the Boston Celtics withstood a late charge to beat the New York Knicks 122-118 Saturday night for their third straight victory.

The Knicks trailed by 20 points in the third quarter but came back to briefly lead 101-100 on Stephon Marbury’s layup. Sebastian Telfair’s layup gave Boston the lead for good, 102-101 with 3:41 left in the game.

Pierce was 10-for-23 from the field and hit 18 of 22 free throws. Pierce scored 10 points in the Celtics’ big third quarter and added another 19 in the final period.

The three-game winning streak is Boston’s longest since winning four straight from April 12-17, 2005.

Ryan Gomes scored 22 points for the Celtics, Wally Szczerbiak added 20 and Telfair had 19.

Knicks coach Isiah Thomas was ejected for the first time this season with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter as the Knicks were behind 106-102. Referee Joe DeRosa tossed Thomas for arguing a foul committed moments earlier by Nate Robinson on Telfair, who gave the Celtics 108-102 lead with two free throws.

Pistons 104, Rockets 92

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Richard Hamilton scored 30 points and Chauncey Billups added 23 as the Detroit Pistons beat the Houston Rockets 104-92 Saturday night.

The Pistons (5-5) have won two straight to get back to .500 after their worst start in six years. Houston (6-4) had won five of six.

The teams traded the lead through the early portions of the fourth quarter, but the Pistons took control with a 17-2 run that gave them a 98-85 lead with 3:18 left. Rasheed Wallace and Flip Murray each had six points in the surge.

Wizards 111, Cavaliers 99

WASHINGTON – For once, Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards got the better of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Arenas came out of a recent personal slump by scoring 45 points – 25 more than James – and the Wizards ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Cavaliers 111-99 Saturday night.

Cleveland had won its last five games.

Magic 97, Bobcats 83

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dwight Howard posted his second 20-20 game this season with 24 points and 21 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic ran away from the Charlotte Bobcats 97-83 Saturday night.

Darko Milicic had 14 points and eight rebounds and Grant Hill added 15 points as Orlando won its fourth straight game.

Charlotte’s Emeka Okafor, taken one spot behind Howard with the No. 2 pick in the 2004 NBA draft, hit 13 of 15 shots from the field for 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but received very little support.

Heat 93, Hawks 88, OT

ATLANTA – Dwyane Wade scored 37 points, Jason Williams hit the go-ahead basket on a 3-pointer from the corner and the Miami Heat broke a three-game losing streak with a 93-88 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Wade hit a jumper from outside the arc with 2:04 remaining to the tie the game at 81.

After Tyronn Lue missed a 3 for the Hawks, Wade lured the defense toward him before dishing off to an open Williams, who made the long jumper with 1:31 left to put Miami ahead to stay.

Trail Blazers 86, Nets 68

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Zach Randolph had 20 points and 16 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a four-game losing streak with an 86-68 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Jarrett Jack each had 12 points and Ime Udoka added 10 for the Blazers, who scored the first 13 points of the game and never relinquished the lead.

Hornets 99, Timberwolves 96

MINNEAPOLIS – Peja Stojakovic made a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to play to lift the New Orleans Hornets over the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-96 on Saturday night.

Chris Paul added a career-high 35 points – including two crucial shots against Kevin Garnett – and Stojakovic finished with 20.

as the Hornets sent the Wolves to their sixth defeat in seven games.


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