kevin garnett

Kevin Garnett scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and used a dominant second quarter to help the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 107-91 on Wednesday night and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Whistled for a costly illegal pick late in a Game 2 loss, Garnett crushed the Sixers early and never let them think about a fourth-quarter rally.

Garnett scored 13 of Boston’s 32 points in the second quarter and the Celtics became the first team to win by double digits. Game 1 and Game 2 were each decided by one point.

Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 14 assists. Paul Pierce [stats], playing with a banged-up knee, had 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 4 is Friday in Philadelphia.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Their old legs may still cost the Boston Celtics this series against the younger, fresher Sixers. For a night, though, old heads prevailed over young legs in a big way.

“This was a team that you could see did not want to be down two (games) to one, playing Game 4,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “You could just see. They’ve been in a lot of these kinds of games. They know how important a swing game is to get that home court back. And they played great.”

The Celtics may have knee problems and foot problems and ankle problems. They may be sore and achy and stiff-legged. But they are still a team with a championship pedigree, a team with legitimate superstars. They were not about to panic after two close games in Boston. If anything, they looked annoyed as they swatted the Sixers, 107-91, Wednesday night.

It was just one basket among many. But everything about this game was in a dunk by Paul Pierce in the first quarter. The Celtics’ mainstay had missed a couple of layups. His sore knee had left him looking slow and old through the first two games. Now he came driving down the lane, fire in his eyes, and slammed the ball angrily.

“That’s who he is,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

– Reported by Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer