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Celtics dominate Lakers in Finals rematch

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Pierce says the Boston Celtics had no reason to discuss their heartbreaking loss in Game Seven of the NBA Finals last summer before they returned to Staples Center on Sunday.

With a spectacularly fluid performance on offense against the outclassed Lakers, Pierce and the Celtics showed some things just don't need to be said out loud.

Pierce scored 32 points, Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 13 rebounds with a large bandage over a five-stitch cut on his head, and the Celtics overcame Kobe Bryant's 41 points in a 109-96 victory over Los Angeles.

Ray Allen scored 21 points for the Celtics in the longtime rivals' first meeting since Los Angeles rallied from a late 13-point deficit for an 83-79 win in the deciding game last June, ending an exhausting series in dramatic fashion.

"It's another game, but it was definitely an emotional game, especially because we lost Game Seven here," said Pierce, who dueled down the second-half stretch with Bryant. "It feels good to come back in this building and get a win."

The Celtics overwhelmed the Lakers in the rematch, with Rajon Rondo catalyzing the offense by racking up 15 of his 16 assists after halftime. Boston also outrebounded the Lakers, 43-30.

This victory also put the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics (36-11) well ahead of the Lakers (33-15) in the overall NBA standings.

"I think guys are upset, and they should be," Bryant said.


Around the league

*Dwyane Wade scored 32 points and Eddie House hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 22.2 seconds left as the Heat beat the Thunder, 108-103.

*Amare Stoudemire scored 33 points despite a sprained right knee, rookie Timofey Mozgov had career highs of 23 points and 14 rebounds in his first appearance in three weeks, and the Knicks beat the Pistons, 124-106.

*Dwight Howard had 20 points and 20 rebounds in three quarters of work and the Magic handed the Cavaliers their 20th straight loss and 30th in 31 games, 103-87.

*The Pacers fired coach Jim O'Brien after failing to make the playoffs each of the past three years and squandering a promising start this season. Indiana went 121-169 under O'Brien and is 17-27 this season. Assistant coach Frank Vogel will take over.

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