Celtics Beat 76ers 92-91 in Second-Round Opener, Lakers Win

Kevin Garnett had 29 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to a 92-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of their best-of-seven National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference semifinal.

In a Western Conference quarterfinal Game 7, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 96-87 victory over the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers begin their best-of-seven conference semifinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow.

At TD Garden in Boston, Paul Pierce had 14 points and Rajon Rondo had his eighth playoff triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists for the Celtics, who rallied from a second-quarter 13-point deficit.

“He’s an amazing player. He really is,” Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said of Rondo. “He takes that ball wherever he wants to take it on the floor.”

Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday hit a 20-foot jumper with 33 seconds left in the game and followed 30 seconds later with the final points of the game -- two free throws that left the 76ers trailing 92-91.

Rondo grabbed the inbounds pass, made sure to avoid a foul and dribbled for the final three seconds to secure the Celtics’ win.

“I feel like I could out-quick him. That’s what I did,” Rondo said. “We knew they had a foul to give. I told Doc (Rivers) to get me the ball and I could use my speed.”

Andre Iguodala had 19 points for the 76ers and Evan Turner added 16 points.

“Rondo just leaps out. That’s the last thing on your mind: him going into our side of the court,” Iguodala told reporters. “You could have a turnover down there. It’s a gamble, but it’s a good play. We could have done a better job scoping it out.”

At Staples Center in Los Angeles, Steve Blake scored 19 points for the Lakers, who had a 48-42 halftime advantage. Ty Lawson and Al Harrington each had 24 points for the Nuggets.

In today’s games, the Memphis Grizzlies host the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of their Western Conference series, while the Indiana Pacers visit the Miami Heat for the first game of their semifinal series.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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