Sunday, December 30, 2012 1:57 am
Warriors whip short-handed Celtics 101-83
By ANTONIO GONZALEZAP Sports Writer
Stephen Curry had 22 points and nine assists, David Lee scored 20 points and the Warriors whipped the short-handed Boston Celtics 101-83 on Saturday night to close out a memorable month.
Golden State (21-10) finished December with a 12-4 record and has at least 20 wins before New Year's Day for the first time since 1980.
"What more is there to say?" Lee said. "Happy New Year."
First-round pick Harrison Barnes added 15 points and eight rebounds to help Golden State build a 20-point lead in the second quarter and cruise most of the way. The Warriors tied the 1961-62 team - when the franchise was still in Philadelphia - with 12 wins in December.
"The bottom line is it's been a great year for us," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "2012 has been real good to us. We will put it behind us and now look forward to doing great things in 2013."
The Celtics, meanwhile, are hardly ringing in the new year in style.
Courtney Lee had 18 points and five rebounds starting in place of Rajon Rondo, who was a late scratch for Boston because of a bruised right thigh and hip. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Rondo will be a game-time decision at the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, but he was far more concerned about the team's horrendous shooting and offensive flow.
Paul Pierce finished with 13 points on 4-for-20 shooting, Jason Terry scored 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting and both were taken out with 4:19 remaining and the game well out of reach.
The Celtics (14-15) have lost six of eight to fall below .500 for the first time in almost two months. Combined with Thursday night's 106-77 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston has been outscored by 47 points the last two games.
"We got to figure out who we want to be," Pierce said. "Do we want to be a defense-first team? If we're not going to be a defensive team, we got to be a better offensive team. It's got to be something. We still got to find our way."
After beating the Philadelphia 76ers at home Friday night, the Warriors continued to pound Eastern Conference competition. Golden State outshot Boston 51 to 36 percent from the floor, the lowest an opponent has shot against them all season.
The Warriors also had a season-high with 10 blocked shots - five by rookie Festus Ezeli - and improved to 13-2 against the East this season.
And this one wasn't even close.
Curry shook off the double teams the Celtics threw his way on most pick-and-rolls and found Lee and others for easy dunks. At one point, the Warriors scored 11 straight and later took a 19-9 lead that got Rivers ranting and raving at his players to pick up the intensity.
After the Celtics started to close the gap, Jackson switched to the three-guard lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack. The trio shredded Boston's depleted backcourt, with Curry and Thompson each connecting from beyond the arc to cap a 21-7 run that gave Golden State a 50-30 lead late in the second quarter.
"This was huge," Curry said. "You're just trying to keep the momentum going."
The Celtics simply had no rhythm offensively and no pressure defensively without Rondo, the three-time All-Star point guard who had started the first 24 games this season. Rivers said Rondo was hurt at the Clippers but doesn't think the injury is anything serious.
Pierce's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter highlighted a brief burst that brought Boston to 78-70. The highlights for the Celtics ended there, with the Warriors' swarming Boston defensively to build back a 22-point lead.
"We got to keep working at this," said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who had 6 points and three rebounds in 23 minutes. "This is where you start to see who's with you. This is when you see who really wants it, who really wants to get down and work and grind for it. We're about to find it out."
NOTES: SG Leandro Barbosa is expected to rejoin the Celtics at Sacramento after missing four straight games for personal reasons. ... Boston fell to 5-10 on the road. ... Raiders WR Jacoby Ford was among those in attendance.