The two healthy remnants of the New Big Three spurred the Celtics to an 8-0 lead in the first 76 seconds, and Pierce went on to score 15 points in the first quarter as Boston coasted to a 119-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
"Paul knew last game that none of us, as a group, came with the right mental approach [against the Rockets]," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And that's what leaders have to do, and that's what he did."
Pierce scored 25 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 13 assists for the Celtics, who had played .500 ball since losing to the Orlando Magic on Christmas Day to end a 14-game winning streak. Monday's loss to Houston dropped Boston out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, a game behind LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat.
"They were primed for a good effort [to] get the bad taste of the last game out of their mouths," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "They showed what kind of team they are. They're a big-time machine."
Rivers commended his captain for setting a tone and making sure there would not be another letdown.
"We practiced hard [Tuesday]. You could see it," said Rivers, who earned his 309th victory to pass K.C. Jones for third on the franchise's career list. "We were just hoping there would be a carry-over, and there was."
Reserve Carl Landry scored 17 points and Beno Udrih had 16 for Sacramento, which has lost 12 consecutive road games. The Kings lost 136-133 in overtime to the Wizards in Washington on Tuesday night and arrived in Boston at 3:30 a.m., just beating the worst of the blizzard that blanketed the Boston area with more than a foot of snow.
"We played against a great team. Not just a good team, but a great team," Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. "I mean no disrespect to them, [but] they just played unbelievable."
The Celtics thanked fans for coming out in the snow; it was announced as a sellout, and there weren't many no-shows.
And the crowd got to leave early, thanks to a blowout that the Celtics needed. None of Boston's aging starters played more than Pierce's 26 1/2 minutes, as Rivers sat the entire starting five for the fourth quarter. (Pierce, Allen and Shaquille O'Neal all left the locker room without commenting.)
"Paul was icing early. Ray was icing early," guard Marquis Daniels said. "It was a good thing to see that."
Allen scored 14 points, making four of five from 3-point range, and reserve Semih Erden had 10 points and eight rebounds while filling in at center when O'Neal got into early foul trouble.
O'Neal had zero points and zero rebounds at the half, thanks to the three fouls he picked up in just over 7 minutes of action. He picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, an offensive foul called by referee Bob Delaney.
O'Neal had had problems with Delaney in the past. In Boston's Christmas Day game against the Magic, O'Neal fouled out in just 12:39, scoring two points, and complained afterward, "I guess they come out to see No. 26 play."
Delaney's number is 26.
O'Neal was fined $35,000 by the NBA for his comments.
The Celtics scored the first eight points of the game, with Pierce finding Allen for a layup and then stealing the ball to set up his own 3-pointer. Allen's 3 made it 8-0.
Pierce finished the quarter with 15 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. He was 2 for 3 from 3-point range in the first, and 6 for 8 from the field.
Boston led by eight at the half and scored 11 of the first 13 points of the third quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers by Allen. The Celtics led by 25 in the third before Pooh Jeter hit a long 2-pointer in the final minute.
Delaney, the referee, was knocked down during a scramble for the ball early in the second quarter. A Celtics trainer went out to talk to him, but Delaney soon got up and worked the rest of the game. ... Celtics C Jermaine O'Neal sat out with a sore left knee. He also missed 19 games earlier in the season. ... The Kings' Tyreke Evans missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained left ankle. ... The Celtics improved to 5-3 since Kevin Garnett injured his right calf.
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