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March 30. 2012 10:42PM

Celtics in first in division after win

MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Garnett put up 24 points and 10 rebounds on his old home turf as visiting Boston pulled into first place in the Atlantic Division with its fourth straight win, 100-79, over the Timberwolves. Minnesota has lost nine of its last 13 games. Paul Pierce recorded 21 points and nine rebounds and Rajon Rondo handed out 17 assists for the Celtics, who moved one game ahead of the slumping 76ers in the Atlantic, pushing them up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Boston jumped out to a 17-6 lead and never trailed again, stretching the margin to 62-47 early in the third quarter as Rondo handed out three assists and converted a layup during an 8-2 burst. Minnesota would close to within 88-78 on Kevin Love's three-point play with 5:26 left in the game. But Garnett hit back-to-back jumpers to spark a 12-1 run to the finish. Love finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds but struggled to 5-for-18 shooting and committed three of the Timberwolves' 20 turnovers.

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GAME NOTEBOOK: Rondo has recorded double figures in assists in 12 straight games ... Minnesota was again without PG J.J. Barea (thigh), F Michael Beasley (toe) and C Nikola Pekovic (ankle) ... The Celtics - last in the NBA in rebounding - battled the Timberwolves - third in the league - to a 45-45 draw on the glass.


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