The Boston Celtics are still well below .500, but their longest winning streak in two seasons has moved them into a tie for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Celtics seek their fifth consecutive win overall and fourth straight on the road Saturday when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats.

After completing a perfect three-game road swing against division rivals New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia, the Celtics returned home and defeated the Denver Nuggets 119-114 Friday in a game they never trailed.

Paul Pierce scored 38 points, Tony Allen added a career-high 30, and Al Jefferson had 28 and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who have won four in a row for the first time since April 12-17, 2005. Boston has not won five or more consecutive games since a seven-game run March 11-19, 2005.

The victory also improved the Celtics to 4-2 since Allen entered the starting lineup. A sprained ankle for Wally Szczerbiak originally provoked the move, but Boston coach Doc Rivers is staying with the new rotation even with Szczerbiak back in action.

Allen has responded by scoring 16 points or more in three of the last five games, and on Friday, the guard shot 11-for-13 from the field, and added a career-high eight rebounds and three steals.

``Obviously, Tony was phenomenal,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ``In the second quarter, I told our coaches, 'Unless Tony asks to come out, he's not coming out.'''

Those winning streaks in 2005 helped the Celtics finish 45-37 and take the Atlantic Division title. The current hot stretch has brought Boston's record to only 9-13, but that's good enough to tie the Nets for the lead in the NBA's weakest division.

Now, the Celtics head on the road again, which may actually help them extend their streak. Boston is 5-5 away from home, compared with just 4-8 at TD Banknorth Garden. A victory Saturday would make the Celtics the only team in the league with a winning road record and a losing mark at home.

Boston has won seven of nine meetings with the Bobcats (6-16) all-time, but has lost its last two visits to Charlotte, including a 92-83 defeat Nov. 22. Pierce had 28 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Celtics, while rookie forward Adam Morrison scored 26 to pace the victorious Bobcats.

Morrison started that game - and 15 others this season as Charlotte struggled with injuries to center Primoz Brezec and point guard Brevin Knight - but has returned to a reserve role in the last two games as the team has regained its health. The move has appeared to pay off, as Morrison has scored 38 points over the last two contests after totaling just 11 in the previous four games.

Second-year forward Sean May has also been pressed into sporadic starting duty this season, but came off the bench Thursday and scored a career-high 32 points in a 99-89 victory over the Orlando Magic. Morrison added 22 as the Bobcats snapped their four-game losing streak and enjoyed their largest victory margin of 2006-07.

``The rotation works, the matchups work,'' said May, who is averaging 24.3 points and shooting 60 percent over the last three games. ``Everybody was pretty comfortable in the game lineup. Everybody's starting to put this thing together. It's taking some time, but we'll build off this.''


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