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CELTICS FINISH CLIMB FROM ABYSS

Boston pounds its rival for title No.17 a year after going 24-58.

On a new parquet floor below aging championship banners, the Celtics won their 17th NBA title and a first one for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - their Big Three for a new generation.

After 22 long years, the NBA has gone green.

Lifted by ear-splitting chants of "Beat L.A." from their adoring crowd, which included Boston legends Bill Russell, John Havlicek and JoJo White, the Celtics concluded a shocking rebound of a season Tuesday night with a stunning 131-92 blowout over the Lakers in Game 6.

With the outcome assured, Boston fans serenaded the newest champs in this city of champs, and taunted Kobe Bryant and his Lakers, who drowned in a green-and-white wave for 48 minutes.

Garnett scored 26 with 14 rebounds, Allen scored 26 and Pierce, the Finals MVP, added 17 as the Celtics, a 24-win team a year ago, wrapped up their first crown since 1986. Boston joined the 1975 Warriors and the 1977 Trail Blazers as teams to win it all a year after missing the playoffs.

The Lakers, who forced this game by winning Sunday's Game 5 in Los Angeles, were trying to become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.

No way. No how. No chance.

Boston's 39-point win surpassed the NBA record for the biggest margin of victory in a clincher; the Celtics beat the Lakers 129-96 in Game 5 in 1965.

Pierce doused Celtics coach Doc Rivers with red Gatorade. Owner Wyc Grousbeck, who named his group Banner 17 to leave no doubt about his goal, put an unlit cigar in his mouth - a tribute to Red Auerbach, the patriarch who had a hand in the franchise's first 16 titles.

Garnett dropped to the parquet and kissed the leprechaun at center court, then found Hall of Famer Russell for a long embrace.

"I got my own," Garnett said. "I hope we made you proud."

"You sure did," Russell said.

The Celtics ended the first half on a 26-6 run, blowing open a close game and sending the fans into a frenzy.

Los Angeles trailed 32-29 with 7:50 left in the first half when Boston went on its run. Garnett had seven points, three rebounds and two assists in the sequence.

The Celtics led 58-35 at halftime and increased the margin to 79-48 halfway through the third quarter. and the Lakers never got near them again.

Around the league

SONICS TRIAL: SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett testified that he remained committed to finding a new arena in the Seattle area before last season - even as e-mail circulated among team co-owners portraying how eager they were to move the club to Oklahoma City. Seattle is suing Bennett to force him to keep the team in town two more seasons.

MAVERICKS CASE: Don Nelson's claim against owner Mark Cuban is going to arbitration. The sides met Monday but reached no agreement. Nelson and his attorney say were owed wages from previous ownership.

NBA Finals Celtics 4, Lakers 2 Game 1 Celtics 98, Lakers 88 Game 2 Celtics 108, Lakers 102 Game 3 Lakers 87, Celtics 81 Game 4 Celtics 97, Lakers 91 Game 5 Lakers 103,Celtics 98 Tuesday Celtics 131, Lakers 92

Number of the day

17 Celtics championships, including nine against the Lakers. Boston last won in 1986, topping Houston 4-2.

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