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Pierce pours in 35 as Boston pounds Portland to snap skid

BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Celtics finally played the way they
expected to when they acquired Wally Szczerbiak two weeks ago.

Paul Pierce scored 20 of his 35 points in the third quarter, and
the Celtics beat the Portland Trail Blazers 115-83 Friday night to
snap their season-high, six-game losing streak.

Boston won for the second time in eight games since acquiring
Szczerbiak from Minnesota in a seven-player trade on Jan. 26.
Szczerbiak scored 21 points and Raef LaFrentz had 18 for the
Celtics, who had their most lopsided win of the season.

When the Celtics picked up Szczerbiak in a trade that sent Ricky
Davis to the Timberwolves, they figured an additional outside
shooter would open up the floor for Pierce. That's what happened
against Portland.

"We moved the ball a lot and got the ball to our shooters,"
Pierce said. "Wally got us going and Raef had it going. That
opened it up for me when I was driving."

Boston also took advantage of the weak offense of the Trail
Blazers, who entered the game averaging an NBA-worst 89 points a
game.

"Wally and Paul played so well off each other," Boston coach
Doc Rivers said. "Well, everybody did a great job. The defense, at
times, was really good with the rotations, and I just thought the
ball moved great."

Szczerbiak said he's finally getting comfortable with his new
teammates.

"The ball was moving all over the place," he said. "We did a
good job of playing with each other."

Zach Randolph led the Trail Blazers with 14 points and Travis
Outlaw had 10.

"We don't have fire," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "I
don't know where the fire has gone. These last two games were
basically like a repeat."

The Trail Blazers lost 101-69 at Indiana on Wednesday.

"It was terrible," Portland's Theo Ratliff said of Friday's
loss. "We've got to try to figure it out. Watch film. Try to
discuss some things."

Boston led 52-42 at halftime and got off to a quick start to
open the second half when Szczerbiak nailed a 3-pointer from the
top of the key to trigger a 6-0 run. After a pair of baskets by
Portland, LaFrentz hit three 3-pointers in a 2:28 stretch during a
15-4 run as the Celtics pushed their lead to 73-50.

"We had a lot of open shots and a lot of good looks at the
baskets," LaFrentz said. "After the trade, we changed a lot of
big pieces."

Following Juan Dixon's basket for the Trail Blazers, Boston
scored the next seven points to break open the game. Pierce
highlighted that run with a baseline drive for a dunk.

After that, Portland, looked like an uninterested team, turning
the ball over and giving up a number of easy drives to the basket.
The Trail Blazers, who have won a Western Conference-low five road
games, had seven turnovers in the quarter.

Pierce scored nine of Boston's last 11 points in the third,
helping the Celtics open a 91-61 lead. He had 35 points at the end
of three quarters after shooting 7-for-10 in the period, and he
didn't play the fourth.

The Celtics cleared their bench, with all reserves playing the
final 9:48.

Game notes
Celtics rookie forward Ryan Gomes made his first start. ...
A female fan hit a 3-point shot for $7,777 at the end of the first
quarter, using an underhand shot and banking it in. ... Each of the
games between the teams last season ended on buzzer-beaters. ...
Boston was without frontcourt players Al Jefferson (sprained right
ankle) and Kendrick Perkins (dislocated left shoulder). ... Boston
rookie Gerald Green scored his first NBA points on a baseline dunk
that brought a roar from the sellout crowd.