Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Pierce propels Celtics

Ex-Jayhawk burns Heat; Pistons’ streak ends at 13

January 21, 2004

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— Everything went right for the Boston Celtics down the stretch.

Paul Pierce turned a potential turnover into a layup, Mark Blount came up with the night's most important rebound, and the Miami Heat kept missing.

The combination helped Boston rally from a nine-point deficit in the final 51/2 minutes Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing streak by beating Miami 86-84.

"We just had that great sense of urgency," Pierce, a former Kansas University standout, said. "We could have gotten discouraged with four or five minutes to go, but we kept our composure."

The Celtics were badly outrebounded, but Blount's tip-in put them ahead 85-84 with 48 seconds left. The Heat's Rafer Alston attenpted a potential game-winning shot from 25 feet, but it glanced off the front of the rim at the buzzer.

Pierce scored 29 points, including a highlight-reel drive that cut the margin to 84-83. He lost the ball, scooped it up, juked past John Wallace with a 360-degree spin and sank a layup.

Reserve Udonis Haslem scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, a record for a Miami rookie. Lamar Odom came within an assist of only the fourth triple-double in Heat history, finishing with 12 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.

"It's a game we should have won," Odom said. "That one hurt."

Alston's 3-pointer put the Heat ahead 79-70 with 5:38 left, but they shot 2-for-10 with three turnovers the rest of the way.

Boston's Paul Pierce, right, scores over Miami's Eddie Jones in the
first quarter of Tuesday's game. Pierce, a former Kansas University
standout, scored 29 points in Boston's 86-84 victory in Florida. It
snapped the Celts' four-game skid.

Boston's Paul Pierce, right, scores over Miami's Eddie Jones in the first quarter of Tuesday's game. Pierce, a former Kansas University standout, scored 29 points in Boston's 86-84 victory in Florida. It snapped the Celts' four-game skid.

"Our defense was the key down the stretch," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said.

"We haven't been playing that well," Pierce said, "and coach has been riding us about defense being the reason. The guys who are going to play are the guys who play defense."

The Celtics won even though they were outrebounded 52-34 and shot just 42 percent. The Heat, who have the worst shooting percentage in the NBA, also shot 42 percent and committed 17 turnovers.

Pierce, shooting 26 percent over the past three games, shook the slump by going 12-for-24 and added eight rebounds.

The Heat, playing their first home game since Jan. 7, got off to a good start as Boston missed 12 of its first 14 shots and sank just 20 percent in the first quarter. Heat center Brian Grant didn't dress because of a bruised left knee, ending his streak of 123 consecutive games.

Pacers 81, Pistons 69

Indianapolis -- The Indiana Pacers kept Detroit from establishing two historical bests.

Jermaine O'Neal had 28 points and 15 rebounds to help the Pacers snap the Pistons' 13-game winning streak.

"We are really developing into an amazing basketball team," said former Kansas University forward Scot Pollard, who contributed strong defense in 13 minutes.

The Pistons were trying for the longest winning streak in franchise history. Instead, they were held to nine points in the first quarter and lost to their former coach, Rick Carlisle, for the third time this season.

Reggie Miller had 22 points in another strong performance for the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers, who have won five in a row and 12 out of 13.

Indiana extended its division lead to 31/2 games.

"We take satisfaction as one team that knocked them off course," Miller said. "The thing I'm encouraged about is we're beating upper-echelon teams at home and on the road."

The Pacers have also beaten San Antonio and New Jersey in the last five nights.

O'Neal had eight points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter as the Pacers took a 20-9 lead. The strong start set up a relatively easy win for Indiana, which never trailed.

After shooting 19 percent in the first quarter, Detroit shot 77 percent in the second and closed the half with a 10-0 run to pull to 44-40. But that would be as close as the Pistons would get.

"We've just got to find a way to beat those guys somehow," Wallace said.

Corliss Williamson led the Pistons with 17 points and Richard Hamilton added 15.

Detroit couldn't find an answer for O'Neal, who had his way with Wallace, last year's defensive player of the year, and Mehmet Okur. O'Neal wasted no time going right at Wallace, driving to the basket and pulling up for short jumpers.

"Jermaine hit big shots for them all night," Hamilton said.

O'Neal also was 8-for-8 from the foul line.

"I think at the beginning, Indiana set the tempo," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "They didn't turn the ball over. They converted turnovers and we didn't."

Cavaliers 99, Sonics 94

Cleveland -- Carlos Boozer matched a career-high with 32 points and added 20 rebounds.

Tony Battie added 17 points, Dajuan Wagner had 14 and Kevin Ollie hit two big free throws down the stretch for the Cavs, who went 38-of-42 from the line.

The victory was the 300th for Paul Silas, making him the 46th NBA coach to reach that plateau.

Rashard Lewis had 27 points and Ray Allen 20 for the Sonics.

Mavericks 106, Nets 93

Dallas -- Antoine Walker scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half and Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points.

Nowitzki scored 15 by halftime, then played the second half with a sprained left thumb following a hard foul by Kenyon Martin. Michael Finley, just named the Western Conference player of the week, scored 18 and Steve Nash had 18, too.

Martin enjoyed his lone annual trip to his hometown with a season-high 29 points and nine rebounds. Richard Jefferson added 21 points and seven rebounds. Jason Kidd had 12 assists, but shot just 4-of-11 for 10 points.

Nuggets 96, Jazz 75

Salt Lake City -- Voshon Lenard scored 17 points, Carmelo Anthony had 14 and the Denver Nuggets gave Utah its first three-game losing streak.

Marcus Camby added 12 points and six rebounds for Denver, which took a 2-0 lead in the season series. The Nuggets were swept by the Jazz last season.

Greg Ostertag, a former Kansas center, returned from a one-game suspension for fighting and finished with four points and five rebounds.

Blazers 109, Kings 104

Sacramento, Calif. -- Derek Anderson scored all 12 of the Trail Blazers' points in overtime. Anderson scored a season-high 29 points and Rasheed Wallace had 26 points and a season-high 15 rebounds as Portland held on for its third road win in 19 games.

Brad Miller hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left in regulation, capping Sacramento's 13-4 rally in the final 46.9 seconds to force overtime. But Portland took the lead for good on Anderson's early 3-pointer and hung on with his free throws and jumpers.

Portland held Sacramento to its worst shooting game of the season -- 32.9 percent.

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