BOSTON – Paul Pierce scored 38 points and Tony Allen added a career-high 30 to help the Boston Celtics extend their winning streak to four with a 119-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Al Jefferson had 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Wally Szczerbiak scored 16 points off the bench for the Celtics (9-13), who moved into a first-place tie with the New Jersey Nets in the lowly Atlantic Division. New Jersey lost to Toronto 90-78 earlier Friday.

The Celtics led by as many as 19 and never trailed, although Denver turned it into a close game thanks to Carmelo Anthony and Andre Miller.

Anthony scored a season-high 42 and Miller added 18 for the Nuggets (12-9), who lost their second straight and fell to 1-3 on their five-game trip.

The Nuggets (12-9) lost to Washington 120-91 on Tuesday and conclude the trip in New York on Saturday.

Boston led 70-51 early in the third quarter, but Miller and Anthony combined for 17 third-quarter points to help the Nuggets cut the deficit to 85-74 to start the fourth.

After Jefferson opened the fourth with a layup to extend Boston’s lead to 13, Anthony scored five straight, sparking an 11-2 run that helped the Nuggets close the gap to 89-85.

The Nuggets got as close as 94-91 on Miller’s layup midway through the quarter, but Boston scored seven of the next nine points to pull away.

Allen’s steal and breakaway dunk capped the spurt and made it 101-93 with 4 minutes remaining. Pierce, who added nine assists and eight rebounds, hit a 3-pointer two possessions later to make it 106-95.

Boston improved to 4-2 since Allen moved into the starting lineup six games ago with Szczerbiak out with a left ankle sprain.

Szczerbiak returned for Boston’s 101-81 win in Philadelphia on Tuesday, but has come off the bench since. Before the game Friday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he planned on keeping Allen in the starting lineup because Szczerbiak adds a spark off the bench the Celtics had been missing.

Allen made his first eight shots, and his 11 first-quarter points helped the Celtics jump out to a 31-17 lead. He kept it going in the second quarter, following Anthony’s layup with a baseline dunk and a 3-pointer to extend Boston’s lead to 36-19.

Wizards 106, Heat 95

WASHINGTON – The Washington Wizards unloaded 31/2 years of frustration on the Miami Heat on Friday night, taking advantage of a depleted lineup to blow the game open in the first quarter and hold on for a 106-95 victory.

Never mind that the Heat didn’t have Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The Wizards were more than relieved under any circumstance to end a 16-game losing streak to their Southeast Division rivals and get their first win in the series since Michael Jordan led a 91-87 victory in Miami on April 11, 2003.

Pacers 112, Knicks 96

INDIANAPOLIS – Danny Granger scored a career-high 25 points and the Indiana Pacers hit a season-high 12 3-pointers in a 112-96 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

The Pacers were 12-of-23 from long range, including three each for Granger, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. The second of two 3-pointers by Darrell Armstrong, the final basket of the third quarter, was the Pacers’ 12th of the game from behind the arc, topping the previous season high of 11 at Milwaukee last month.

Raptors 90, Nets 78

TORONTO – T.J. Ford had 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead the Toronto Raptors to their second straight without Chris Bosh, 90-78 over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night.

Ford had 10 points in the fourth quarter for the Raptors, who put six players in double figures while improving to 2-2 without their leading scorer, who has an injured left knee.

Cavaliers 106, Sonics 84

CLEVELAND – Larry Hughes scored 25 points, LeBron James flirted with his first triple-double this season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers coasted to a 106-84 win over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.

Hughes, making his second straight start after missing 10 games with a sprained ankle, went 11-of-16 from the floor. The Cavaliers shot a blistering 65 percent in the first half, doing whatever they wanted against the Sonics, who hardly bothered playing defense.

Mavericks 93, 76ers 79

DALLAS – Take Chris Webber out of a Philadelphia lineup without Allen Iverson, and the 76ers couldn’t break their longest losing streak in 10 years no matter how sluggish the Dallas Mavericks played at times.

Jason Terry scored 18 points to lead six Dallas players in double figures and the Mavericks built a big early lead en route to a 93-79 victory Friday night, the 10th straight loss for the 76ers.

Hawks 97, Grizzlies 88

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Zaza Pachulia scored 22 points, Speedy Claxton added 19 points and 11 assists, and the Atlanta Hawks ruined Pau Gasol’s season debut by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 97-88 on Friday night.

Josh Smith finished with 16 points, hitting 7-of-9 from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds for Atlanta.

Bulls 117, Bucks 111

CHICAGO – Ben Wallace grabbed a season-high 27 rebounds and added 10 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 117-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Kirk Hinrich scored 21 points and Chris Duhon had 19 for Chicago, who has won 10 of its last 11 games.

Suns 105, Warriors 101

PHOENIX – Boris Diaw’s fifth career triple-double helped the Phoenix Suns run their winning streak to 13 games – one shy of the club record – with a 105-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

The Suns, far from their best after a five-game road trip, led by 25 early in the second quarter, but blew most of it by halftime and trailed by as many as eight in the third quarter.


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