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Celts bounce back from back-to-back losses with rout

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If this is how the Boston Celtics respond to a losing streak, pity the next team that is forced to face them in that situation.

The Celtics bounced back from back-to-back losses in emphatic fashion, beating the Sacramento Kings 108-63 Sunday night in one of the most one-sided wins in franchise history.

"That's our statement," Paul Pierce said. "We feel like the last couple of games we haven't been living up to what we've been doing most of the year. We wanted to get back to that and establish our defense. I thought we did that."

The Celtics held Sacramento to just 19 field goals on 28 percent shooting, the fewest shots made by the Kings in the shot-clock era and the second fewest allowed by the Celtics.

The 45-point margin of victory matched the sixth biggest by the Celtics, who also beat the New York Knicks by that amount last season. The last time Boston had a bigger win was a 153-107 victory over the Baltimore Bullets on Nov. 27, 1970.

"I don't even actually know the margin," coach Doc Rivers said. "I never look at that honestly. I don't look at that. I don't even know the score to be honest. I know we won and that's all that counts for us."

The Celtics started this four-game road trip with a franchise-record 19-game winning streak and a 27-2 record that was the best start in NBA history. But the defending NBA champions lost a Christmas Day showdown against Los Angeles Lakers and then again the following night at Golden State to show their first signs of vulnerability this season.

After getting a day off to regroup, the Celtics once again looked like the class of the NBA.

"It wasn't like we're a team that's going to panic," Pierce said. "We just tried to regroup. We just executed back on the court and just did some of the things we've been doing all year long, trying to get a win and play better basketball."

The competition was far from stiff. The Kings lost their sixth straight game since winning their first under interim coach Kenny Natt and have dropped 16 of 18 overall.

None of the losses have been quite as ugly as this one, the most lopsided defeat for Sacramento since losing 153-91 to Golden State on Nov. 2, 1991, and the worst home loss in franchise history. The Kings fell behind 82-42 late in the third quarter and didn't have a single player with three made field goals until Donte Greene's dunk in the final minute.

"This is frustrating going through things like this," Kings guard Bobby Jackson said. "We can't keep making excuses. That's just it. I'm embarrassed. I hope everybody else is embarrassed, too. That was just ridiculous the way we came out and competed tonight. I wouldn't even say competed. We didn't even show up."

John Salmons' 11 points led the Kings. Francisco Garcia shot 1-for-7 before leaving in the first half with stiffness in his right calf.

Kevin Garnett made 10 of 11 shots to lead the Celtics with 21 points and 11 rebounds despite playing just under 23 minutes. He now has 20,894 career points, moving past Bob Pettitt into 27th place all-time. Ray Allen added 19 on 7-for-8 shooting and Eddie House had 15 off the bench.

There was so little to cheer about for Kings fans that the loudest ovation came when Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps was given a key to the city from mayor Kevin Johnson and a Kings jersey from team owner Gavin Maloof in the first half.

Phelps had a chance to win a car for a fan by hitting the rim from halfcourt, but his shot banged off the backboard. Phelps was given another opportunity in the second half, but failed again, shooting an airball and launching a shot over the backboard. Maloof then took a shot and hit the rim, finally giving a lucky fan the car.

The Celtics dominated the game on the defensive end, forcing the Kings to miss 14 of their first 17 shots as they built a big lead early and rolled from there. The Celtics led by 25 at the half and then scored the first 10 points of the third quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Allen that made it 69-34.

"Needless to say that was a lesson well learned from the NBA champions," Natt said. "They came out very hungry after dropping two games and they did what they were supposed to do. We were lacking on our end with the effort and they got into their game."

Game notes
Miami had 17 field goals in an 88-62 loss to Boston last season. ... The Kings points and field goals made were the lowest totals in the NBA this season. ... Boston lost three straight games once last season, falling on the road to Denver, Golden State and Phoenix in February.