THE FACTS: Paul Pierce scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter, as the Boston Celtics pulled away from the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers in the second half to cruise to a 116-95 victory. It was Boston's sixth straight win overall, as the hosts ruined Dwight Howard's return to the Lakers' starting lineup with an offensive onslaught that could not be contained, posting a new regulation season high with 116 points. Jeff Green (19 points) and Jason Terry (15 points) provided additional firepower off the bench for the C's new-look spread offense, which featured six players scoring in double figures. Kobe Bryant had a game high 27 points off the bench for the Lakers, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
QUOTABLE: "Whenever you match up against the Lakers, it always feels good to give them the old fashioned beat down at your house. You know, it doesn't matter what direction this team is going, there will always be a rivalry. You know, everybody's always going to watch, and it feels good to win like that."
-- Paul Pierce
THE STAT: Kevin Garnett drilled a fadeaway turnaround jumper with 8:07 remaining in the second quarter, to become the 16th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points.
TURNING POINT: After the two teams traded baskets for much of the third period, the Celtics' offense erupted during the closing minutes of the quarter with a 14-3 run. The outburst stretched Boston's lead to 26 points at the end of the frame and put away any threat of a Lakers comeback.
QUOTABLE II: "I'm sure someday I'll fall back and rock in my rocking chair having a cigar, thinking about what I've done. I'm sure it will make some sense to me then."
-- Kevin Garnett on what it means to him scoring 25,000 points in his NBA career
HOT: Boston's offense in the 3rd quarter -- Behind 12 points from Pierce, the Celtics shot a sensational 76.2 percent from the field during the period, as they tied a season high by posting 37 points in a quarter.
NOT: Metta World Peace -- The small forward looked extremely rusty in his return from a one-game suspension, missing 11 of his 13 shots from the field. World Peace finished with just five points over 30 minutes. Over his past five games, he's shooting just 26.5 percent from the field.
QUOTABLE III: "It's typical Celtics basketball. They all just put their hard hats on and they go out, go hard and figure things out. It always just seems like whenever their backs are against the wall, you know that's when you really see the best from them."
-- Kobe Bryant
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Pierce -- Boston's captain continues to give a little bit of everything with their All-Star point guard sidelined. Thursday night was no different as Pierce filled up the box score with 24 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a block.
ROOKIE WATCH: Fab Melo -- The rookie center out of Syracuse scored the first two points of his NBA career on a layup late in the fourth quarter. Melo finished with two points, an assist, a rebound and a steal in five minutes of action.
NOTABLE: The Celtics were whistled for 10 personal fouls in the first quarter. ...Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger was back with the team for the first game since undergoing season-ending back surgery last week. ...Howard had missed the Lakers' prior three games with a sore shoulder. ...The Lakers announced before the game Pau Gasol would be out for the next 6-8 weeks due to a partial torn plantar fascia. Gasol suffered the injury during Tuesday's win over the Brooklyn Nets.
UP NEXT: For the L.A. Lakers, Friday @ Charlotte, Sunday @ Miami, Tuesday vs. Phoenix. For Boston, Sunday vs. Denver, Monday @ Charlotte, Wednesday vs. Chicago.