By The Associated Press
BOSTON –Tim Duncan beat Glen "Big Baby" Davis a couple of times in the first quarter, and the disappointment on the rookie's face showed.
"We had to remind him that Duncan is really good. That's going to happen," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Sunday after Boston beat the San Antonio Spurs 98-90. "You can't get frustrated."
Filling in with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins injured, Davis had nine points and eight rebounds for Boston. Paul Pierce scored 35 points, Ray Allen had 19, and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists and 11 rebounds Sunday as the Celtics won their third straight game improved to 16-0 against the Western Conference.
Tim Duncan had 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and Manu Ginobili scored 21 for the Spurs, who lost for the first time in five games. San Antonio got within three points with 1:13 left, but Michael Finley's 3-point attempt went in and out.
Twice in the final minute Ginobili was forced to take off-balance, heavily guarded 3-point attempts; neither one was close.
"We have an opportunity and a great shot by Mike that rattles in and out to tie the game down the stretch," Duncan said. "Then two turnovers in a row and they get two offensive rebounds. Just too many mistakes that bit us down the stretch there."
The Celtics improved to 5-2 since Garnett went out with an abdominal strain, and they'd better get used to it: Rivers said after the game that his big man – the leading All-Star vote-getter – won't be back before the Feb. 17 exhibition in New Orleans.
Lakers 104, Heat 94 – At Miami, Kobe Bryant scored 33 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers used a 16-2 second-half run to pull away and beat the skidding Heat in Miami's first home game of its post-Shaquille O'Neal era.
Mark Blount finished with 22 points for Miami, which has lost seven straight and 22 of its last 23. Dwyane Wade scored 19 and Shawn Marion, playing his first game for the Heat since Wednesday's stunning deal that sent O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns for he and Marcus Banks, finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Nets 101, Mavericks 82 – At East Rutherford, N.J., Vince Carter scored 25 of his 29 points after nearly being knocked out by an elbow to the head, and inconsistent New Jersey off 21 straight points to stun Dallas.
Richard Jefferson added 19 points and Jason Kidd put aside trade rumors once again to finish with 13 points, 14 assists and six rebounds, falling four rebounds shy of his 100th career triple-double.
Josh Boone and rookie Sean Williams, who had 15 points, did a great job of frustrating Dirk Nowitzki, limiting the All-Star forward to 21 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Pistons 113, Bobcats 87 – At Auburn Hills, Mich., Tayshaun Prince scored 14 of his 21 points in the first quarter and Detroit won its eighth straight game.
Richard Hamilton added 18 for Detroit, which had seven players with at least eight points.
Jason Richardson, playing 30 minutes south of his hometown, led all scorers with 27 points.
Raptors 105, Timberwolves 82 – At Minneapolis, Andrea Bargnani scored 16 points and Jose Calderon had 15 points and 10 assists for his second consecutive double-double to help Toronto beat Minnesota.
All-Star Chris Bosh added 14 points for the Raptors, and T.J. Ford had seven points and 13 assists, his highest totals since returning to the lineup from injury Feb. 4.
Nuggets 113, Cavaliers 83 – At Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, All-Star sidekick Allen Iverson added 25 and the Denver Nuggets rolled over listless and limping Cleveland.
Anthony didn't have to play in the fourth quarter and improved to 8-2 in his pro career against good friend LeBron James, who scored 30 points – in three quarters – but got little help from a Cleveland team missing four key players, including two starters.