x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Confident Celtics ready to deal with 'Linsanity' says Paul Pierce

Boston franchise defeat New Jersey Nets in NBA and will host New York Knicks next.

Paul Pierce, in white, scored 27 points against the Nets on Saturday night.
Paul Pierce, in white, scored 27 points against the Nets on Saturday night.

Paul Pierce has said the Boston Celtics are prepared for 'Linsanity' when the New York Knicks come to town on Sunday.

Pierce had 27 points and eight assists as the Celtics, the former NBA champions, beat the New Jersey Nets late on Saturday and got back above .500 with their third straight win.

Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

The Celtics, who have had plenty of distractions in recent times over the potential departure of big-name players such as captain Pierce, were playing without an ill Ray Allen but still controlled nearly the game and had five players score in double figures.

The win, therefore, has given the Celtics confidence to deal with the in-form Knicks when the two teams meet on Sunday night, Pierce said.

Lin, who has had his hottest season in the NBA yet, remains one of the more popular players since his step into the limelight while leading the Knicks in some hard fought battles. Add the fact that Lin is a Harvard graduate and the city of Boston's interest in this game just got bigger.

Pierce, however, believes the game would be the Celtics' to lose.

"I think we're moving the ball a lot better and hopefully hitting our stride right here at home," he said. "We're playing better basketball."

Pierce also chose not to care too much about trade-off rumours.

"It's nothing that we haven't been through before," he said. "[Rajon] Rondo's been through it; I've been though it a number of times.

"The thing is you have to do your job, you can't let that affect you. I kind of mentioned it to Rondo today, how I was part of trade rumours for probably four or five straight years. I just didn't let it affect me on how I approached each and every game. You know whatever happens, happens - it's a business. Sometimes you don't have control of it."

In other games of the night, Utah's Devin Harris converted a three-point play with 4.5 seconds left as the Jazz ended Miami Heat's nine-game NBA winning streak with a 99-98 victory. LeBron James had 35 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots for Miami, but passed on the final possession to Udonis Haslem, who missed a long jumper at the buzzer.

Dwyane Wade chipped in 31 points and six rebounds for the Heat, who were without All-Star Chris Bosh.

Al Jefferson came up with 20 points and six rebounds for the Jazz, who had six players in double figures.

In Cleveland, Luol Deng scored a season-high 24 points as Chicago won its fifth straight by beating Cleveland.

Derrick Rose added 19 for the Bulls, who built a 24-point lead in the third quarter and moved a game ahead of Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Antawn Jamison scored 22 for Cleveland, which missed injured leading scorer Kyrie Irving and slipped to a seventh straight defeat by Chicago.

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 38 points in his second straight big game in a protective mask as Los Angeles blew most of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter before holding on to beat Sacramento.

Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 16-1 at home since losing their season opener on Christmas.

Francisco Garcia scored 18 points to lead seven Kings in double figures.

In Toronto, Memphis beat Toronto for the sixth straight time.

Rudy Gay had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Mike Conley and Marc Gasol each scored 21 for the Grizzlies, who have won seven of their past eight overall.

Jerryd Bayless had 18 points for the Raptors.

In New Orleans, Chris Kaman had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead New Orleans over Dallas.