New York: Ten-time all-star Paul Pierce stepped up late in the game to help the Boston Celtics grind out a hard fought 96-92 away victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday.
Having lost to the Bucks eight days earlier, the Celtics dished out a little payback with Pierce notching up nine rebounds and 25 points, including a clutch run of baskets late in the fourth quarter, to improve the side to 3-3.
“It was just ball movement,” Pierce said of his side’s last-quarter comeback. “[Rajon] Rondo’s penetration really opened up things, I was able to knock down some shots, I think we spread the floor pretty good.
“We put Rondo in the middle and let him create and we shared the ball.”
Rondo had 10 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, taking his streak of games with 10 or more assists to 30, the third-longest streak in NBA history.
Magic Johnson has the longest streak at 46 games from April 1983 to February 1984.
Fellow Celtics Kevin Garnett (18 points) and Jason Terry (15 points) were also heavily involved, with Garnett matching Pierce with some important late buckets, while the Bucks were left to rue a lack of accuracy from the majority of the squad.
“What was nice is every guy took the shot in their spot,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “That’s something we talked about. I want guys to shoot any time they get it as long as it’s their shot and their spot. I’ll have to watch the film and find out why in the last eight minutes it happened.”
The home side Bucks led by four at three-quarter time and despite having a hefty possession advantage all night were unable to close the deal.
Monta Ellis top-scored with 32 points but Milwaukee made under 40 per cent of their field goals and only 15 per cent of three-pointers to fall to 3-2 for the year. Brandon Jennings, who scored 21 points and added 13 assists in the November 2 game, shot just one of 11 in the rematch.
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, are apparently seeking to make their fans’ fondest wishes come true and talking to Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson about their vacant coaching job.
An article posted on the NBA team’s website was one of many reports on Saturday saying Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president Jim Buss had met with Jackson and had agreed to talk again in the coming days.
The underachieving Lakers sacked coach Mike Brown on Friday, with assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepping in as interim coach.
The team’s 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night was still in the third quarter when fans launched into “We Want Phil” chants.
“Who is Phil?” quipped Bickerstaff of the former Lakers coach who guided Chicago to six NBA titles and the Lakers to five NBA crowns before retiring in 2011.
Kupchak had indicated on Friday that the Lakers’ search for a coach would include checking in with Jackson.
“When there’s a coach like Phil Jackson, one of the all-time greats, and he’s not coaching, we would be negligent not to know he’s out there,” Kupchak said.
Results from the NBA games on Saturday (home team in CAPS) Philadelphia 93 TORONTO 83 INDIANA 89 Washington 85 CHARLOTTE 101 Dallas 97 (OT) CHICAGO 87 Minnesota 80 HOUSTON 96 Detroit 82 Boston 96 MILWAUKEE 92 UTAH 94 Phoenix 81 San Antonio 112 PORTLAND 109 Denver 107 GOLDEN STATE 101 (OT)
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