Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Davis' 25 Points Lead Celtics

BOSTON (AP) -- Walter McCarty took down Antonio Daniels. Danny Fortson raked Paul Pierce across the face. Vladimir Radmanovic sent Jiri Welsch to the floor.

The punishment handed down by NBA commissioner David Stern didn't keep the Celtics and SuperSonics from getting rough on Sunday. But it might have kept anyone from retaliating in Boston's 102-83 victory over Seattle, the Sonics' first loss in 10 games.

"The league is making them into an example," Pierce said after Stern banned Ron Artest for the rest of the season and eight others for lengths from one to 30 games. "Hopefully, the rest of us are watching and we'll know better the next time."

Ricky Davis didn't start for the first time this season, but he scored 25 points in 29 minutes. Ray Allen scored 21 for Seattle, but Rashard Lewis was just 4-for-13 from the field for 12 points as the Sonics shot 36 percent as a team.

Seattle had not lost since dropping its opener to the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We're not happy we lost," Fortson said. "But nine games in a row is pretty good."

Pierce had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Gary Payton had 12 points with seven assists, five rebounds and three steals for the Celtics, who had lost two in a row. Boston shot 57 percent from the field -- its third-highest field-goal percentage in the last five years.

"I think it worked out pretty well for our whole team tonight, with me being in the starting lineup and Ricky coming off the bench," Welsch said after his first start of the year. "He brings a lot of energy to the team when he comes off the bench."

Boston scored 12 consecutive points late in the first quarter to turn a 12-10 deficit into a 10-point lead. Seattle came within one point, 35-34, in the second quarter but never took back the lead.

Seattle trailed by 22 points in the fourth quarter but cut it to nine on Ray Allen's three-point play with 4:16 left that made it 90-81. But the Celtics countered when Payton hit a fallaway jumper in the lane and then assisted on a reverse layup by Welsch.

Seattle called timeout, but it didn't help. Davis scored on an assist from Welsch and Marcus Banks made a pair of free throws to put the game away.

The game wasn't overly physical, but there were a few hard fouls that might have escalated into something nasty if players weren't so freshly reminded that retaliation won't be tolerated. Just before game time, Stern suspended nine Pistons and Pacers players for 143 games for a bench-clearing brawl that spilled into the stands in Detroit on Friday night.

Security at the FleetCenter was boosted slightly, Celtics spokesman Bill Bonsiewicz said. The public address announcer made a rather lengthy announcement warning fans not to throw things on the court or otherwise interfere with play.

So, when McCarty tackled Daniels on his way to the basket with 10:34 left in the fourth quarter, neither player made so much as a dirty look. And when Radmanovic took down Welsch under the basket with 4:39 left in the game, a foul was called and that was the end of it.

"It really depends on who's involved. There are some guys who can handle it; other guys are going to get offended," Welsch said. "I'm not going to fight anybody who fouls me. If he fouls me, it's an honor for me because he knows he can't guard me."

The Celtics have taken a lead into the fourth quarter seven times in eight games -- they were tied in the other -- but have lost four of those games. Playing the streaking Sonics, Boston ran off the last nine points of the third, including seven by Davis, to take a 75-58 lead into the final quarter.

Davis hit a 3-pointer and the Celtics added three free throws to make 80-58 with 11:08 to play.

That lead was too big to blow, even for Boston.

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