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Ray Allen scored 19 points, Boston's reserves helped prevent a big lead from slipping away in the fourth quarter and the Celtics opened a four-game road trip Sunday night with a 92-83 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Glen Davis had three foul line jumpers during a 15-6 push by the Celtics after their 22-point lead had been cut to 73-67 early in the fourth quarter. Nate Robinson, who gave himself the "Donkey" nickname to go with Davis' "Shrek" in the playoffs last season, added a driving layup and Allen's 3-pointer from the left wing restored the advantage to 88-71 with 7:04 remaining.
"That whole group, they were absolutely terrific. They won the game for us," coach Doc Rivers said. "They went from a six- to a (17-) point lead. We came down, we got stops and executed, and Nate was terrific."
Rivers was forced to go with his backups after Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored all of the Thunder's points during the third quarter, when Oklahoma City outscored Boston 27-15.
The Celtics led by as much as 64-42 before Westbrook reeled off a personal string of nine straight points to give Oklahoma City a chance. He hit a pair of jumpers and three free throws, then capped it off with a steal that led to a two-handed, fast-break dunk.
Allen fired back with a jumper and a 3-pointer in Boston's 7-0 response, but Oklahoma City scored 16 of the next 18 points to pull to 73-67 on James Harden's 3 to open the fourth quarter.
"In this league, everyone loses leads, but not the way we did today," Rivers said. "We got up on a great team and then you have to keep playing that way to win the game and stay up. We kind of let up. You can get away with that against a lot of teams. Not with a team with Westbrook and Durant on it. You definitely can't do that."
But with Robinson starting to figure out his role as the second-team point guard, until Delonte West returns from a 10-game suspension, the Celtics' cartoony combination helped to put the game away.
"We've just got to continue to give our starters a lift off the bench and continue to do what we've been doing, which is playing together and having fun," said Robinson, who had a season-high nine points.
Durant scored 34 points and Westbrook had 16 points and 10 assists to lead Oklahoma City, which played without third-leading scorer Jeff Green. Green is day to day with a sprained left ankle.
The Thunder had back-to-back lopsided losses to Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers before rallying from a 13-point, third quarter deficit to beat Portland in overtime on Thursday night.
"We wanted to play hard and get back in the game," Durant said. "We had a bad first half and just wanted to redeem ourselves. I think we were pressing it a little too much and causing turnovers, but you have to give them credit. They're a great team."
Paul Pierce scored 17 points and Rajon Rondo added 10 points and 10 assists for Boston. The Celtics' bench outscored Oklahoma City's reserves 33-12.
"They pretty much had our backs when we gave up a lead. That's something we've got to be more aware of coming into the third quarter, once we push a lead out like that," Pierce said. "I thought the bench came in with poise. Coach really has confidence in them executing."
Durant was called for a rare technical foul with 1:05 to play after a scuffle with Pierce under the basket, but replays showed that Pierce had a hold of Durant's arm when it started. After Pierce missed his free throw and Westbrook fouled Rondo on the ensuing inbounds pass, both headed to the bench for the rest of the game.
Boston built a 58-37 halftime lead by shooting 56 percent and finishing on a 24-6 run. Robinson hit a running, right-handed 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to draw a fist pump from Rivers, who had substituted him into the game with 2.3 seconds left in hopes of stealing a basket before intermission.
After leading the NBA in field goal percentage defense much of last season, the Thunder came in with the third-worst mark in the league.
"They'll be fine. Everybody's gunning for them right now, and it'll be an adjustment period. But they'll be right back up there by the end of the year," Rivers said. "They're so talented, they're well-coached. they'll be fine. I'm glad we only see them twice."
This program aired on November 8, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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