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POSTED March 20, 2012 12:55 a.m.

ATLANTA (AP) — Ray Allen hit two 3-pointers in Boston’s 13-0 run in the fourth quarter and protected the lead with two free throws in the final seconds as the Boston Celtics held on to beat the Atlanta Hawks 79-76 on Monday night.

The Celtics led 73-58 at the end of the run. Joe Johnson, who had 25 points, had three late 3-pointers as the Hawks rallied. Johnson’s 3 with 11.8 seconds remaining cut the lead to 77-76.

Allen, who had 19 points, made two free throws with 10.9 seconds remaining.

Jeff Teague launched an air ball on Atlanta’s final possession.

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 points, 13 assists and six steals for Boston, which took charge with a 17-2 run, including 13 unanswered points, after a 56-56 tie in the final period.



76ERS 105, BOBCATS 80


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jrue Holiday had 20 points and six assists as the first-place Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Charlotte Bobcats to snap a three-game losing streak and sweep the three-game season series between the teams.

Holiday, coming off a career-high 30 points in Saturday’s night loss at Chicago, was 8-of-13 shooting from the field and made all four shots from the free-throw line.

Doug Collins said before the game the key to snapping the losing skid was to get a more balanced scoring attack from his players and he got just that.

Thaddeus Young also had 20 points and Louis Williams chipped in with 19 for the 76ers.

Gerald Henderson had 14 points for the Bobcats, who failed to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.



CAVALIERS 105, NETS 100


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Tristan Thompson scored a career-high 27 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and gave Cleveland the lead with a tip-in with 1:11 to play, leading the Cavaliers over the New Jersey Nets.

Fellow rookie Kyrie Irving added 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds as the Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak and sent the Nets to their third straight loss.

Newcomer Gerald Wallace had 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead New Jersey. Deron Williams added 28 points, but threw the ball away with roughly 16 seconds to play when he passed up a 3-point attempt to make a pass underneath with New Jersey down 103-100.

Irving, who scored the Cavaliers’ final six points, was fouled after the turnover and pushed the lead to five.



BULLS 85, MAGIC 59

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Carlos Boozer scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds, John Lucas scored 20 points off the bench and the Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau also became the fastest coach in NBA history to earn 100 career victories. The Bulls won for the fifth time in six games.

They also improved to 3-1 over the past four games playing without guard Derrick Rose, who continued to nurse a sore groin.

Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Magic, who had 19 turnovers.

The Magic have lost three of their last four since posting a three-game win streak. They’ve also gone six straight quarters without scoring at least 20 points.



TIMBERWOLVES 97, WARRIORS 93


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Love banked in a 16-foot jumper with 4 minutes left, then added an insurance tip-in off a miss by J.J. Barea to help the Minnesota Timberwolves keep their dimming playoff hopes alive.

Love finished with 36 points and 17 rebounds for his 39th double-double of the season. Luke Ridnour added 11 points and 10 assists, while Anthony Tolliver scored 10 points off the bench, all in the fourth quarter for the Timberwolves.

Minnesota (23-24) snapped a three-game losing streak with the win and moved within 1 1/2 games of Houston for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

David Lee had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors, who remained winless since trading leading scorer Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks last week.



MAVERICKS 112, NUGGETS 95


DENVER (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Brandan Wright scored 15 points and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Denver Nuggets.

Arron Afflalo scored 24 points for the Nuggets, who lost a game that could have an impact on their playoff position. Denver entered Monday seventh in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Dallas. The Mavericks not only gained a game on the Nuggets, they won the season series and hold a tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record.

The Nuggets also lost guard Andre Miller in the second quarter with a bruised right shoulder, and forward Danilo Gallinari broke his left thumb in the third quarter. Neither player returned, and their status for Wednesday was unknown.

Their injuries made Wilson Chandler’s debut even more significant one day after he signed a multiyear deal. He had 13 points and took a team-high 16 shots.

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