BOSTON (AP) - Paul Pierce scored 24 points and led a third-quarter surge as the Boston Celtics routed the Los Angeles Lakers 116-95 on Thursday, improving to 6-0 since losing point guard Rajon Rondo for the National Basketball Association season with a torn knee ligament.
The Lakers had cut a 58-44 half-time deficit to 72-61 with 5:07 left in the third quarter. Then the Celtics went on a 23-8 run and led 95-69 going into the fourth. Pierce started the surge with a three-point play and ended it with a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left, giving him 12 points in the period.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 to lead the Lakers, who suffered their worst loss of the season despite the return of Dwight Howard, who fouled out with just over five minutes left in the fourth. Howard had he missed three games with a sore right shoulder.
The win was Boston's biggest of the season.
The Lakers had won six of their previous seven games, including all three without Howard, and had moved three games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.