BOSTON, Dec. 17 (Ticker) -- Gary Payton's
hot start helped the Boston
Celtics rebound from a tough loss.
Payton scored 18 of his season-high 27 points in the first half
to lead the Celtics to a 114-106 victory over the struggling
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The Celtics suffered a heartbreaking 100-99 loss to Denver on
Wednesday but came out hot in this one, scoring 29 points in
each of the first two quarters and shooting 56 percent
(23-of-41) from the floor in the first half.
"Great, great, great win. I thought offensively we were as good
as you can get," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "That's 27
assists with the ball movement, it was beautiful. Gary Payton
was the dominant player tonight. The ball movement - when you
think we had seven guys in double figures and all five of our
starters were in double figures, that's the type of ball
movement and basketball we've got to play every night."
Payton hit 8-of-10 shots in the first two quarters and finished
10-of-13. He added 11 assists and six rebounds, also season
"I was pushing the ball and everybody was getting out. We just
gotta understand that we gotta do that night in and night out,"
Payton said. "Tonight was good, we distributed the ball very
well and I think we kept everybody in the flow, so when
everybody touches the ball, then we're a good basketball team."
Boston dominated in the paint, 56-38, and got a balanced effort
to hand Utah its third loss in its last four games. Payton led
seven Celtics in double figures.
"They scored 56 points inside, we couldn't get them out of the
paint," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "The Celtics were just much
more interested in doing the right things than we were. We had
moments tonight where we looked so disinterested. Guys were
driving to the basket and we would just let them go."
made 9-of-11 shots and scored 18 points, Paul Pierce
added 13 points, Jiri Welsch
12 and Ricky Davis
and rookie Al Jefferson
11 each off the bench. Raef LaFrentz
scored 10 points.
"It was a good win for us because we played together as a unit,"
Pierce said. "Everybody really contributed tonight, whenever
you see seven guys in double points then it's really working
Utah trailed by as many as 21 points and could not recover after
shooting just 35 percent (14-of-40) in the first half.
had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Mehmet Okur
21 points and Carlos Arroyo
added 20 off the bench for Utah,
which is 4-13 since a 6-1 start.
"It's hard to come back when you're down 20 points especially in
their home," Arroyo said. "We were out there just trying to
compete until the end, the game is not over until the buzzer
sounds so we were trying to get back."