Garnett Powers Celtics to 94-82 Win Over Jazz

The win was Boston’s fifth in six tries. The Celtics moved into a tie with the Philadelphia 76ers atop the Atlantic Division.

Former Celtic Al Jefferson had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, scoring 10 in a 17-3 third-quarter run that turned an 18-point deficit into a two-possession game. The Jazz tied it early in the fourth before Boston scored the next seven points — with Garnett contributing on all of them — to pull away.

Utah had won seven of its previous eight games.

Gordon Hayward scored 19 points, and Paul Millsap had 16 for the Jazz, who fell into a three-way tie with Denver and Houston in a race for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The Celtics took a 44-29 lead with 2:22 left in the half on consecutive alley-oops from Rondo to Ryan Hollins. Boston opened an 18-point lead, 61-43, with 7:40 to play in the third quarter.

But the Jazz scored 17 of the next 20 points — 10 of them from Jefferson — to make it a four-point game. They then ran off six in a row to tie it 66-all, scoring the first five of the fourth quarter on Enes Kanter’s jumper and a three-point play by Alec Burks.

That’s when the Celtics snapped out of their slump.

Garnett fed Keyon Dooling for a 3-pointer, then the Celtics’ big man made a fallaway jumper. After a Jazz miss, Garnett grabbed the rebound and made an outlet pass for a fast break that ended with Bradley at the free throw line, sinking a pair of foul shots that made it 73-66.

The Jazz never got closer than three points after that.

Notes: Ray Allen missed his fourth consecutive game with a sore right ankle … Celtics F Chris Wilcox is scheduled to have surgery for an enlarged aorta on Thursday. … Pierce made seven free throws to give him 6,041 in his career and pass David Robinson for 15th place on the NBA’s career list for free throws made. Next up: Wilt Chamberlain at 6,057. … Jefferson and Garnett drew matching technical fouls with 6 minutes left. … Jefferson, who was traded to Minnesota in the 2007 deal that brought Garnett to Boston, was 1 for 8 from the floor in the first half.

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Celtics Top Nets for 3rd Straight, Move Above .500

Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double and third in four games. Rajon Rondo joined him with a double-double, finishing with 14 points and 13 assists for Boston (18-17).

The Celtics were playing without Ray Allen, who was sick Friday night, but still controlled nearly the entire game and had five players score in double figures. Boston also had assists on 35 of its 45 field goals and topped 100 points for the third time in four games.

Brook Lopez had 28 points for the Nets and Deron Williams finished with 12 points and eight assists. MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green scored 11 apiece for New Jersey.

New Jersey is still trying to recover from an eight-game losing streak last month. The Nets had gone 3-2 since the skid, including a 93-92 road win over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, but slipped back to their old form on Friday night.

The Celtics shot 50 percent in the first half, taking a 58-40 lead into the break. Boston controlled the lane, outscoring New Jersey 32-18 inside and running for 14 fast-break points while holding the Nets to none.

Mickael Pietrus scored 11 and reserve Chris Wilcox had 14 points and seven rebounds while playing 27 minutes, 41 seconds — the longest night for any Boston player. Most of his teammates were enjoying a rest at the end after shutting down a brief rally by the Nets.

The Nets continued to unravel in the third quarter, as Garnett scored eight early in the period, then Pierce converted a three-point play to put the Celtics up 73-49 with 6:27 left in the period. New Jersey was playing a man down because Lopez was still at the other end complaining his shot that was blocked by Brandon Bass should have been called goaltending.

There was no whistle and Rondo found Pierce under the basket for an easy layup as DeShawn Stevenson committed the foul.

The Celtics’ lead grew to 26 before the Nets rallied to make it a little interesting near the end of the third with a 15-4 run. Green scored on three straight dunks, including a towering alley-oop from Brooks, during the surge, but the Nets still couldn’t get closer than 14.

Garnett opened the fourth with a long jumper for the Celtics, who didn’t allow the Nets to threaten again.

Notes: The Celtics had lost five straight entering the All-Star break. … Pierce missed the final minutes of the second quarter, heading to the locker room to be treated for cramps. He was back on the floor for the start of the third quarter. … The Nets committed 20 turnovers while losing their fourth straight in Boston.

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Rondo’s Triple-Double Leads Celtics Past Bucks

Rondo had six rebounds and five assists in the third quarter, when the Celtics went on a 20-4 run to turn a five-point deficit into a double-digit lead. The Bucks cut it to two points in the final minute, but Kevin Garnett made four free throws in the last 15 seconds to clinch it.

Garnett scored 25 points with 10 rebounds, and Chris Wilcox came off the bench to grab 13 rebounds in 26 minutes for Boston, which returned to .500 with its second straight win.

Ersan Ilyasova had 25 points with 10 rebounds and Drew Gooden scored 23 for the Bucks.

Brandon Jennings had just six points to go with his eight assists, but he pulled up for a fast-break 3-pointer that made it 98-93 with 79 seconds to play.

Ilyasova hit a putback that cut it to 98-96 before Garnett sank a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds left. The Celtics gave Jennings a layup but he missed it, and he also missed a 3-point attempt before Garnett grabbed the rebound and went back to the foul line for two more free throws.

Brandon Bass, making his second consecutive start because of Jermaine O’Neal’s wrist injury, scored 16 points with seven rebounds for Boston. Milwaukee led 60-55 with 8:34 left in the third quarter when the Celtics scored the next 12 points and 20 out of 24 to open an 11-point lead.

Both teams were playing for the second consecutive night following the All-Star break.

The Bucks were coming off a 119-118 victory over the Washington Wizards earned when Ilyasova tipped in Jennings’ miss with 2.2 seconds left. Boston, which took a five-game losing streak into the break, beat Cleveland on Tuesday to hold onto eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

For the second straight night, the Celtics faced their closest pursuer for the East’s final playoff berth.

Ilyasova had 10 points in the first quarter and Rondo had eight, when the teams finished tied 25-all. The Bucks took the lead with Larry Sanders’ tip-in on the first possession of the second quarter and led for the rest of the half, but Boston cut a nine-point deficit to four just before the break when Rondo drove for a layup and then Allen stole the ensuing inbounds pass to set up Keyon Dooling’s 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left.

Notes: Garnett and Sanders exchanged words, drawing a double technical foul with 6:23 left in the second quarter. … Drew Gooden had 16 points and six assists and Jennings had seven assists at the half. … O’Neal missed his third straight game with a sprained left wrist. … Mike Dunleavy picked up a technical foul complaining after he was beaten for a rebound by Rondo down the stretch. … It was Rondo’s 16th career triple-double.

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