Celtics top Heat; Lakers get first loss

Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, left, drives against Miami Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — Ray Allen hit his first seven 3-point tries and finished with 35 points, and the Celtics never trailed in a 112-107 win over Miami on Thursday night, beating the Heat for the second time this season and handing them a second straight home loss.

“Ray was unbelievable on both ends,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

Paul Pierce added 25 points and Rajon Rondo had 16 assists, adding to his NBA-leading total. Boston has won 13 of the last 14 regular-season meetings with the Heat in addition to eliminating Miami in the opening round of last season’s playoffs.

“We’re the best 5-4 team in the league,” Dwyane Wade said. “How about that? But we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Boston, which led by as many as 20.

LeBron James finished with 35 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, narrowly missing his second straight triple-double for the Heat. Wade was held to eight points on 2-for-12 shooting.

The Heat got within 110-107 on Udonis Haslem’s free throws with 13.3 seconds left, but Allen hit a pair of free throws to seal it.

NUGGETS 118, LA LAKERS 112 —?In Denver, with the game tied and the ball in his hands behind the 3-point line, J.R. Smith hesitated for just a moment.

“I was thinking about not taking the shot because I missed the one before that and I didn’t know how George was going to react,” Smith said of his coach, George Karl. “When I saw how far Kobe (Bryant) was playing off, I just had to shoot.”

Smith’s gamble paid off. His tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:12 left sparked an 11-0 run that led the Denver Nuggets to a 118-112 win over Los Angeles on Thursday night, handing the Lakers their first loss of the season.

“It was real big, especially against the Lakers,” said Carmelo Anthony, who had 32 points and 13 rebounds.

Bryant scored a season-high 34 points and Pau Gasol had 17 points and 20 rebounds for the Lakers, who were trying to win their first nine games for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

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