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Celtics keep edge at home

March 07, 2009|Associated Press

BOSTON — Home-court advantage has meant everything when the new Big Three plays King James, and the Boston Celtics may have swiped the edge away from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Paul Pierce scored 29 points, reserve Leon Powe had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Celtics beat Cleveland, 105-94, to move within percentage points of the East-leading Cavaliers in the race for home-court advantage through the conference finals.

"I know we're close, and at the end of the season they'll tell us," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "Both teams are really good, and really good teams don't lose at home. That's why it's really important for us to get this."

The Cavaliers (48-13) lead Boston (49-14) in winning percentage .787 to .778, though the Celtics took the lead in the head-to-head tiebreaker, 2-1, with an April 12 game in Cleveland remaining. Since the Celtics assembled their core of Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, neither team has won on the other's court, including the Eastern Conference semifinal last year that Boston won in seven games.

"They are a good team, with and without KG," Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown said. "But I still feel like we can win on anybody's court."

Mo Williams scored 26 for Cleveland and LeBron James had 21, making only five of 15 shots. He spent the last 87 seconds of the game on the bench after the Cavaliers fell behind by 15 and couldn't make a run.

"Both teams know it takes on a different meaning because we may face each other late in the season," said James, who went 13:11 without a point as the Celtics turned a 55-52 lead into an 88-77 advantage. "At one point, somebody's going to have to get a win on the other's home court."

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo left in the first quarter because of a slightly sprained ankle but returned in the second quarter.

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