BOSTON - It's not how you start a game, it's how you finish.
That was the message Boston coach Doc Rivers told his team last night before they stormed the Garden to take on the Golden State Warriors.
Rivers said that the Celtics played poorly in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter in their two previous games, resulting in losses to Atlanta and Indiana.
He wanted to make sure that didn't happen again last night.
And it didn't.
The Celtics outscored the road-weary Golden State Warriors who were playing their fifth consecutive game away from home and only had eight healthy bodies, 31-19, in the third quarter, to break open a close game, and 29-28 in the fourth to snap a two-game losing streak with a 109-95 triumph over the upset-minded Warriors.
All five starters scored in double figures, with Rajon Rondo (18 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds), Paul Pierce (19 points, 4 rebounds), Ray Allen (15 points), Kendrick Perkins (15 points, 7 rebounds), and Kevin Garnett (12 points, 6 rebounds) leading the way.
After Corey Maggette (23 points, 8 rebounds) tied the game up at 55-55 for Golden State with a free throw, it seemed to awake a sleeping giant in the Celtics.
The Celtics shut down Golden State's high-powered offense after that and went on an 11-0 run which gave them their biggest lead of the game up to that point, 66-55.
They would extend that lead to 80-67 by the start of the fourth quarter thanks in large part to Rondo, who scored 12 points in the third.
Golden State made one last push, slashing Boston's lead to 86-76 with 7:30 remaining, but Eddie House (11 points) answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for the Celtics to put the game out of reach.