Boston’s Kevin Garnett scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dominated the second quarter to set up the Celtics’ 107-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday and establish a 2-1 lead in their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series.
Whistled for a costly illegal pick late in a Game 2 loss, Garnett responded by crushing the Sixers early and never let them think about a fourth-quarter comeback.
Garnett scored 13 of Boston’s 32 points in the second quarter as the Celtics won comfortably after two tight games to start the series.
Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 14 assists for Boston, while Paul Pierce, playing with an injured knee, had 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 4 is today in Philadelphia.
Garnett yapped his way down the court after several big early buckets and clearly enjoyed taking it to the Sixers. He buried those 10 to 16 footers with ease in the second quarter to turn a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead.
Pierce is coping with a knee ligament injury that has robbed him of his jump shot and slowed him down on both sides of the ball. He scored only 21 points combined in the first two games.
He charged the lane in the first quarter for a couple of angry-looking dunks. He even pounded the backboard for emphasis after one as if to show the Sixers he still had some lift in those legs.
Thaddeus Young scored 22 points and Jrue Holiday had 15 for the Sixers. Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks each scored 13.
Starters Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner combined for only 11 points.
Young scored three baskets and the rest of the Sixers had only two in the decisive second quarter.
Boston coach Doc Rivers kept Rondo, Pierce and Ray Allen in the game until the final minutes, even though the game was well out of reach.
THUNDER 77, LAKERS 75
In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Kevin Durant rattled in the go-ahead basket with a running shot from the baseline with 18 seconds left, completing Okahoma City’s thrilling comeback win over the Los Angeles Lakers, taking a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semi-final series.
Durant scored 22 points for the Thunder, who trailed by seven points with two minutes left, before surging back with a series of defensive stops by its stars as the Lakers got nothing from their last six possessions.
The Thunder suddenly came alive after a timeout, with Los Angeles holding their largest lead of the game.
James Harden drove for a lay-up, before Durant used his height advantage to reach up and tip away a pass from Kobe Bryant, who he was guarding. Durant ran out for a dunk at the other end, before Russell Westbrook forced another turnover by aggressively challenging an outlet pass to Bryant along the sideline.
Harden made the next stop, blocking Bryant’s jumper on the next Lakers possession and getting a layup in transition to cut the deficit to one in the final minute.
Bryant could not connect again, this time on a three-pointer, giving the Thunder the ball back with the chance to take the lead and Durant was able to make it happen.
Steve Blake missed a three-pointer with about 5 seconds left after Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) could not get the ball to Bryant on the inbounds play.
Durant was then fouled with 0.3 seconds left and made his first try, before missing the second on purpose.
The Lakers got a desperation last try, but World Peace’s long pass for Andrew Bynum was intercepted by Harden.