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Pierce, Rondo lift Celtics past road-weary Clips; wet arena floor poses issues

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett's second game back had Boston coach
Doc Rivers concerned for an unexpected reason.

Paul Pierce scored 22 points and Rajon Rondo had 16 points and
12 assists, leading the Celtics to a 95-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night in a game played on a TD Garden floor that
had to be continually wiped because of condensation.

"The first seven, eight minutes I didn't think we were going to
even finish the game," Rivers said. "I was nervous, though. I
really was."

The sometimes-slippery parquet floor forced the ball boys to mop
one end while play was going on at the other for most of the game.
Early in the game, a few players slipped, causing a brief delay
with 2:28 left in the first quarter.

Rivers and Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy spoke about the
conditions early in the game.

"Mike and I came together, if anybody else slipped in the next
two minutes the game was going to be canceled," Rivers said. "We,
at that point, were very close. Mike said the same thing, 'We can't
afford to get a guy injured on this floor.'"

"It was wet," said Rondo, who shared a postgame podium with
Garnett.

Garnett played 30 minutes and scored 17 points, while being the
center of the defense.

"I think I'm just talking," Garnett said of his defensive
presence. "I'm trying to bring a continued awareness of defense, a
continued awareness of energy."

It was the Celtics' second straight win after they lost four of
five games.

Ray Allen added 15 points for the Celtics, who lost to the
Clippers 92-90 in Los Angeles on Dec. 27 when Baron Davis hit a
fallaway jumper at the buzzer.

Rasual Butler led the Clippers with 17 points and Davis scored
16 on just 5 of 13 shooting. Craig Smith scored 11 of his 13 in the
final quarter for Los Angeles.

Dunleavy knew the floor was a problem before the start.

"Our guys complained about it before we even played the game,
guys were at risk and you hate for that to be the case," he said.

"We kept having to go out and wipe it. There were three kids on
each end trying to wipe it. It must have been better because I
didn't see guys -- we had four guys in the first quarter slip."

Both teams shot under 37 percent in the opening 12 minutes.

"I actually slipped one time posting up Kevin, trying to go
around him," Clippers center Chris Kaman said.

Los Angeles forward Marcus Camby felt they waited a bit too long
to address the problem.

"We were all slipping. It seemed like every Clipper was
slipping, then when Ray Allen slips, they want to bring it in and
address the issue, so that's what we were chirping about," he
said. "It was kind of dangerous out there for both teams."

Los Angeles, which snapped an eight-game road losing streak at
Washington Sunday, fell to 6-15 on the road.

Boston opened a 71-61 edge on Tony Allen's steal and breakaway
layup with just under 11 minutes to play before Smith scored either
from the floor or free-throw line on seven straight possessions,
closing the gap to 77-73 with 5:43 left.

But Pierce answered with a 3-pointer, pushing the Celtics lead
to seven.

The Clippers never closed the gap to below four points the rest
of the way.

The Celtics, who trailed by one at halftime, opened the third
quarter by scoring the first six points to move ahead 49-44. They
pushed their lead to 58-50 on Rondo's driving basket midway into
the quarter and led 64-59 after three.

Game notes
Clippers G Eric Gordon was sidelined for his third
straight game with a sprained left big toe. ... Boston Celtics F
Glen "Big Baby" Davis said before the game that he's looking to
change his image and wants to drop his nickname. ... The Clippers
have not won consecutive road games this season. ... Rivers said
he'll know more Tuesday when F Brian Scalabrine will return from a
sore right shoulder, which sidelined him for the second game in a
row.