Celtics edge Spurs


BOSTON, January 6- Ray Allen scored 31 points and Rajon Rondo added 12 points, 10 rebounds and 22 assists to spark the Boston Celtics over San Antonio 105-103 on Wednesday in a showdown of NBA win leaders.The Spurs suffered their second loss in a row, something that had not happened to them all season, but still kept the NBA’s best record at 29-6.

Boston, the Eastern Conference leaders, improved to 27-7 by shooting 61.3 percent from the field but it was not over until Boston star Paul Pierce blocked a potential game-winning shot by San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili at the final buzzer.

"The fact that we shot 61 percent and won by two is a scary number when you think about it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It took a 61 percent effort by us to win a basketball game at home. That tells you how good that team is."

Rondo had six steals in addition to his 11th career statistical "triple double" — double-digit numbers in three or more categories — in his third game since returning from an ankle sprain that sidelined him for two weeks.

"I felt a lot better in the past couple of games," Rondo said. "I’m in a little better rhythm and I’m able to push off a little bit more on my ankle."

Rondo’s 22 assists were two shy of the career high he had against New York in October and he scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help hold off the Spurs.

"He did it all," Pierce said. "Rebounded. Assisted. Doc has kind of been on him about taking that shot there and he steps up when he needs to and knocks down those shots confidently."

Glen Davis added 23 points for Boston while Argentina’s Ginobili had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the Spurs, who also had 18 points each from Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

"We’re not satisfied with where we are, and honestly I don’t really care what our record is," Duncan said. "The kind of defense we’re playing, we’re definitely not satisfied with where we are right now."

Allen went 13-of-16 from the field for the Celtics, whose shooting accuracy was the deadliest against San Antonio by any foe since 1988. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joked Allen dragged Boston’s shooting rate down with three misses.

"If it was practice… I don’t know if anyone in the league would hit 13 out of 16 (and) he does it in a game," Popovich said. "He’s pretty good."

San Antonio were coming off a 128-115 loss at New York one night earlier.

"New York, we went out there and they beat us in every single area of the

game," Ginobili said. "Today was different."

San Antonio seized a 70-67 lead late in the third quarter on a Duncan hook shot, but the Celtics scored the next 10 points — including a slam dunk and 3-pointer from Pierce — and led 77-70 entering the fourth quarter.

An Allen 3-pointer, a Rondo inside shot over Duncan and an Allen steal and layup gave the Celtics a 105-96 lead before the Spurs rallied late on a Ginobili 3-pointer, a Parker layup and two Richard Jefferson free throws creating the final margin.

Allen, an 89-percent free throw shooter, was fouled late only to miss two critical free throws, setting the stage for Ginobili’s final shot and Pierce’s decisive block.