PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — Kevin Garnett scored 27 points while Paul Pierce added 24 and Rajon Rondo had 23 as Boston cruised past Philadelphia 107-91 to grab the lead in their NBA playoff series.
The Celtics traded one-point victories with Philadelphia in the first two games in Boston, but their stars dominated early on the way to the team taking a 2-1 edge in the second-round Eastern Conference best-of-seven series.
Garnett, who made 12-of-17 shots, also grabbed 13 rebounds while Rondo, who hit 9-of-16 from the field, passed off 14 assists and Pierce, who was only 6-of-17 from the field but went 11-of-14 in free throws, added 12 rebounds.
Pierce was struggling with a sore left knee but did plenty of damage.
“A great all-around game by Paul,” Garnett said. “He was aggressive. Anytime Paul is playing at a high level, we follow that lead. We figured out ways to get him the ball. He was doing a lot for us.”
The Celtics outscored the 76ers by a combined 61-33 in the second and third periods, with Rondo, Garnett and Paul Pierce having secured “double doubles” — double figures in two statistical categories, before the fourth quarter began.
The 76ers ranked third in the NBA regular season in scoring defense but it was the Celtics who dominated defensively, Philadelphia hitting only 40.7 percent from the field for the game.
“In order for us to win the series, we have to play solid defense,” Garnett said. “We got some good stops and some turnovers that started the offense.”
Thaddeus Young came off the bench to lead Philadelphia with 22 points. The 76ers starters managed only a combined 36 points.
The Celtics will try to stretch their series lead with another road triumph in game four on Friday.
“We’re going to come out with the same energy,” Garnett warned. “We’ll make some adjustments and come out again Friday.”