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Davis scores 27 off the bench

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- So another Boston team is doing everything
right as the playoffs approach.

Ricky Davis scored 27 points coming off the bench and Paul
Pierce added 23, helping Boston cruise to a 113-100 victory over
the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night as the Celtics won their
seventh straight game.

"We're rolling," Celtics forward Antoine Walker said. "This
builds confidence. ... We've got a good balance of guys who've been
there before. We're trying to just keep this train rolling -- just
keep winning games however they come."

One night after their 19-point victory in Houston snapped the
Rockets' six-game winning streak, the Celtics dominated New
Orleans, scoring inside and out, on the break and at the foul line.

Shooting 52.1 percent from the floor, Boston was 10-of-19 from
3-point range, 27-of-31 at the line, and dressed up the performance
with authoritative dunks from Davis and Tony Allen.

"They just come out shooting from all possible angles and it's
hard defending," said Hornets reserve forward Bostjan Nachbar, who
scored 19 points.

On the heels of championships by the Red Sox and Patriots,
Boston now has the Celtics surging upward in the NBA standings.
They have won 11 of 12 games, with the lone loss coming against
Minnesota on a last-second shot. They also have won five straight
on the road.

Hornets rookie J.R. Smith prevented an embarrassing rout with 21
points that included several off-balance floaters. Dan Dickau and
Lee Nailon each scored 13 for New Orleans, while Jamaal Magloire
and P.J. Brown each scored 12.

Walker had 18 points and nine rebounds for Boston, while Gary
Payton scored 15 points and Allen 11.

Boston broke the game open in the third period, with Allen
getting three steals and the Hornets turning the ball over six
times in a span of seven possessions. Allen converted two of the
turnovers into driving transition scores, one a windmill dunk.
Allen's third steal led to the first of three straight baskets by
Pierce, the last a 3-pointer capping a 13-0 run that gave the
Celtics an 88-67 lead.

"Once we get them on their back, we've just got to put them
away. And we did," Pierce said. "You've got a lot of veterans out
there who understand the game and understand what it takes to win.
We've just got to do a good job of showing the young guys, when
they come in, what they have to do for us to be a top-notch team.
That's taking care of business, keeping leads, holding on to them
and not having any lapses."

Payton compounded the Hornets' problems by causing havoc with
New Orleans' point guards. On one drive, he forced Dickau to commit
his fourth foul. But Dickau had to return shortly after Speedy
Claxton sprained his left ankle trying to defend Payton. Dickau,
meanwhile, had five fouls before the end of the third period, again
because of a Payton drive.

"The two things that turned the whole third quarter around was
Tony's defense and Gary's post-up and making them try to adjust to
that," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

Walker later hit Boston's 10th 3-pointer as the Celtics took a
94-74 lead into the final quarter.

New Orleans, coming off only their fourth road victory a night
earlier in the Chicago, shot better than 50 percent through the
first half and built a lead as large as 38-30 after Nachbar's
second 3-pointer.

The Celtics then surged ahead with a 16-4 run that included
three 3-pointers -- two by Delonte West and one by Davis. Walker's
fadeaway put Boston up 46-42.

Boston hit seven of its first 10 3-point attempts, with Davis
going 4-of-4 en route to 18 first-half points. Payton's 3 late in
the second quarter put Boston up 63-57 at halftime.

Game notes
Davis has scored 20 or more points in a reserve role 15
times. ... Boston shot 56.7 percent through the first three
quarters. ... The Hornets' 33 points in the opening period marked
their highest first-quarter production of the season. They shot
53.8 percent in the quarter, but finished the game at 47.6 percent.
... Hornets shooting guard Casey Jacobsen started the fourth
quarter at point guard because of Dickau's foul trouble and
Claxton's injury. ... The Hornets (15-50) are losers of 50 games in
a season for the first time since 1991-92.