BOSTON, April 25 (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce
is quickly adding his name to
the storied history of the Boston Celtics.
Pierce drilled a key 3-pointer in the midst of a late 10-0 run
as the Boston Celtics rallied for a 93-85 victory over the
Philadelphia 76ers to grab a commanding 2-0 lead in their
Eastern Conference first-round series.
After collecting 31 points and 11 rebounds in his postseason
debut in the series opener, Pierce led six Celtics in double
figures with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Antoine Walker
had a double-double with 24 and 10.
Philadelphia took an 81-77 lead on a jumper by Derrick Coleman
with 3:21 left to play before baskets by Tony Battie
tied the score.
With nine points in a game-ending 16-4 run, Paul Pierce helped cast a shadow over the Sixers' chances of returning to the Finals.|
Nathaniel S. Butler
Boston got the ball back and got it to Pierce on the right wing,
where he let fly with a deep 3-pointer over a baffled Aaron
that gave the Celtics the lead for good with 1:36
remaining. Pierce had been 3-of-12 from the floor before the
"They gave me a little bit of daylight and no matter if I'm
0-for-20 or 0-for-30, you know I'm going to take it every single
time," Pierce said. "I gave him a jab off the dribble and he
sort of lost his balance. I saw a great opportunity to jump up
and shoot the shot. And it was all in rhythm and it felt good."
"I thought I played pretty good defense on him," McKie said. "He
threw it up there and it went in. Those are the kind of plays
that happen when everything is going well for you."
made 3-of-4 free throws to cap the spurt for an
87-81 advantage before Allen Iverson
finally ended the drought
for Philadelphia with two free throws. But Iverson missed a
short bank shot with 36 seconds to go on the 76ers' next
possession and Pierce converted a pair from the line to seal the
victory for Boston.
Iverson led all scorers with 29 points but made just 11-of-30
shots to go with seven assists. Coleman had a double-double
with 13 points and 13 rebounds but Philadelphia faces
elimination when it hosts Game Three on Sunday afternoon.
"I thought we did a lot of good things but give them credit,"
Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said. "Part of winning in the
playoffs is guys making plays when they really matter most and
they had people step up."
Pierce struggled from the floor, making just 6-of-19 shots but
had no hesitation in drilling his pair of key jumpers down the
stretch. It sent the sellout crowd of FleetCenter into a frenzy,
a crowd that included former Celtic greats Bob Cousy and Bill
"I thought they did a superb job on him," Celtics coach Jim
O'Brien said. "And it was great that he got hot when he got hot
and scored the points that he did."
Boston took a 69-61 lead into the fourth quarter and was ahead,
71-63 on a basket by Kenny Anderson
with 11:15 to go. Iverson
made two foul shots and McKie came alive with 10 straight points
as Philadelphia took the lead for the first time since the
McKie had a driving layup for a 72-71 lead with 7:47 remaining
and added a three-point play for the 76ers' largest lead of the
game. McKie came off the bench for 16 points.
"We tied the game up and we took the lead," McKie said. "From
there, we have enough veteran guys where we should have been
able to control the game and bring it home. Those guys were
making shots all game long and they did it again when it
Pierce was particularly off from beyond the arc as he made just
2-of-9 attempts. He compensated by making 11-of-13 foul shots
and Walker came through by making 10-of-21 shots from the floor.
"Definitely don't think the series is over," Walker said. "We
worked hard all year to put ourselves in a position to have
homecourt advantage and we took advantage of it. That team is
very tough and mentally strong. We understand that."
Iverson showed little signs of the hand injury that caused him
to miss the final 14 games of the regular season. But he did
settle for long jumpers rather than drive to the basket and
managed to shoot 10 free throws, making only six.
"Everything started going right and then like a flip of a coin,
everything just went wrong," Iverson said.
Virtually every Celtic used by O'Brien made a strong
contribution as Battie and Anderson each scored 12 points. Eric
was the fifth starter in double figures with 10 points
while McCarty came off the bench for 10 as well.
Philadelphia has lost six straight postseason games and has
never won any playoff series after dropping the first two games.