Ford Keys to the Game: Bucks 102, Celtics 105

Ford Keys to the Game

Bucks 102, Celtics 105 (OT)

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce salutes the crowd after scoring his 20,000th career point, joining Larry Bird and John Havlicek at the only Celtics to accomplish the feat.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

Many are going to point to Paul Pierce’s eight free throws in the final 1:09 of overtime, which included his 20,000th career point, as the turning point in tonight’s game, but the truth of the matter is that Boston may not have even made it to that point without a play that occurred with 2:30 remaining in regulation.

The Celtics were playing in their second game of a back-to-back tonight, and they certainly looked the part. Doc Rivers acknowledged as much after the game by describing the team’s play as “awful.” Boston was lagging in the fourth quarter and could not got a bucket to fall, which led to a seven-point deficit with 6:24 remaining in the fourth. But the C’s wouldn’t go away and one play from Kevin Garnett, the team’s emotional leader, flipped Boston’s switch in the matter of seconds.

KG sent an emotional charge through both the Celtics and the TD Garden when he posterized Andrew Bogut with a ferocious dunk at the 2:30 mark of the fourth quarter to bring Boston within three points. Bogut was also whistled for a foul on the play, and as KG celebrated the dunk and turned toward the free throw line a scuffle ensued. Garnett raised his arms as he turned, but Bogut took it personal; he thought KG had thrown an intentional elbow at him and Milwaukee’s big man responded by shoving Garnett back toward the baseline.

If you thought the Garden was fired up from the dunk, it went over the top after that shove took place. The fans erupted in response to KG’s ability to get in Bogut’s head and not respond to the shove. After Rivers’ favorite play, the double-technical, was whistled, Garnett nailed his free throw to bring the Celtics within two. Just moments later, when Boston was trailing by one, Garnett put home another three-point play to put the C’s ahead by two points.

From there on out, Boston played like Boston. Milwaukee wound up forcing overtime, but the C’s were able to play with the energy that had been missing for more than 45 minutes of the game. That energy only doubled when Pierce attained his milestone, and the Celts were able to hold on for the victory from there.

Key Box Score Line

If you haven’t heard the news, this was Paul Pierce’s night. For once this season, Rajon Rondo’s ridiculous assist totally can go by the wayside, and Ray Allen’s 23 points and six rebounds can be forgotten. Tonight was all about Pierce and the historic moment he achieved during Boston’s 105-102 win.

With 13.3 seconds remaining in overtime, Pierce became just the third player in Boston Celtics history to reach the 20,000 point mark. The milestone point came on a free throw to give the Celtics a three-point advantage and was followed by a 10-second pause to salute to the Celtics’ captain. Pierce stood at the free-throw line, knowing he had finally reached the mark, while the TD Garden rose to its feet and cheered wildly for their longtime leader.

Pierce waved both hands to the crowd and soaked it all up, a moment that he described as “emotional” and “tough to swallow.” In many moments like this, the game will actually stop and the franchise will salute its player and remove the ball from play. Tonight, however, it was a different story.

Boston was in a dog fight, and Pierce was at the line with an opportunity to seal a win. He took a few deep breaths before accepting the ball from the referee and went on to coolly sink his second attempt to put Boston ahead by four. He would later go on to sink four more free throws to seal the deal.

All in all, Pierce recorded a game-high 28 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. He shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line, including an 8-of-8 performance over the final 1:09 of overtime, and was the sole reason Boston pulled this one out down the stretch.

Not many players have reached the 20,000 point plateau, 36 to be exact, and it’d be shocking if even one of those players eclipsed the mark in a game-winning situation of overtime. Pierce did exactly that, and that’s why this night is all his – just the way it should be for the cornerstone of the Green and White.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Paul Pierce scored his 20,000th point on a free throw with 13.3 seconds remaining in overtime.
  • Pierce finished with a game-high 28 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
  • Pierce also shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.
  • Four Celtics (Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo) took at least 10 shots. Allen's 20 attempts were a game-high.
  • All five of Boston's starters grabbed at least five rebounds, led by Garnett and Rondo's eight apiece.
  • Andrew Bogut had another great game against the C's with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
  • The Bucks had six players finish in double figures.
  • Boston committed seven more fouls (24) than Milwaukee (17), but attempted one more free throw.
  • Rondo continued his incredible run of assists by notching 15 tonight to go along with 17 points.
  • Milwaukee was limited to 16 points in both the first and third quarters.
  • Carlos Delfino, Milwaukee's small forward, recorded a team-high seven assists to go along with 15 points.
  • Two Bucks (Bogut and Delfino) played at least 47:50 of the game's 53 minutes. No Celtic played more than 47 minutes.
  • The game featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes.
  • Allen scored 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting and also grabbed six boards.
  • Jermaine O'Neal, starting his second consecutive game, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
  • O'Neal also fouled out of the game for the second time this season.

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on the moment he notched his 20,000th career point: "You know, it was an emotional moment for me, tough for me to swallow. I was just thinking about all the years I have been here and you don’t see it too often where a player accomplishes that kind of feat playing with one team. It's a great accomplishment. You know, the fans seeing my ups and downs throughout the years and sticking with me. Just to be able to accomplish this type of feat, it means a lot to me, I'm not going to downplay it."