BOSTON, May 3 (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce's latest playoff masterpiece certainly evoked memories of the Boston Celtics' glorious past.

Pierce scored 29 of his playoff career-high 46 points in the first half and decisively outdueled Allen Iverson as the Celtics routed the Philadelphia 76ers, 120-87, in Game Five of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

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Pierce led Boston to its first postseason series win since 1992 by making 10-of-13 shots in the first half. He fell one point short of Boston's franchise record for points in a half -- a mark held by John Havlicek and Larry Bird.

"I (was in a) groove and the guys did an extra good job of finding me in situations to put the ball in the hole," Pierce said. "We shared the basketball, that was the key. We don't mind passing up shots to get another guy an open shot."

Antoine Walker had a great time helping get the Celtics to the second round.
Jesse D. Garrabrant
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The Celtics swingman had 10 points in a 15-4 run in the second quarter that gave Boston the lead for good, 54-43, with 3:20 left in the half. He bookended the spurt with 3-pointers.

Iverson, the reigning league MVP, scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half but simply could not keep up with Pierce's torrid pace as the eliminated the defending Eastern Conference champions. Iverson made 11-of-24 shots but no other 76er had more than four baskets.

"That's the way this thing goes," Iverson said. "You play every game like its your last but sometimes that's just not enough and that was the case tonight."

A 3-pointer by Iverson at the buzzer pulled Philadelphia within 77-67 after three quarters. But Boston used a 19-4 spurt to build a 103-79 cushion with just under five minutes left.

The Celtics continued to pour it on and made a playoff-record nine of their 19 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Boston outscored Philadelphia, 43-20 in the fourth and continued to shoot 3-pointers even with the outcome already decided.

"It just seemed like a snowball effect for us because they put in their reserves and they were hitting threes," Sixers forward Matt Harpring said. "So it's just one of those nights."

Pierce finished 16-of-25 from the floor, including a remarkable 8-of-10 from beyond the arc. It capped a terrific series in which he had three triple-doubles and made several clutch shots down the stretch to win Game Two. He averaged 29.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in the five games.

"He had a great game," Iverson said. "That's what stars do. Big players play big all the time."

Boston made 19-of-29 from the arc, which was easily a franchise record and also the most ever made against the 76ers in a playoff game. Eric Williams made all three attempts while Antoine Walker was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.

"Everybody kind of just fed off of that and the 3-point barrage was on," Pierce said. "Those are the looks that we want."

It was the first decisive game at the FleetCenter and but Boston did its best to create an atmosphere similar to the old Boston Garden. Former greats such as Tommy Heinsohn, JoJo White and Cedric Maxwell were on hand and Red Auerbach was present with a green cane, similar to the one on the Celtics' symbol.

"It was a wonderful experience to be able to, in the last two minutes, have the game in hand and kind of soak up the atmosphere," said Boston coach Jim O'Brien, a Philadelphia native who grew up rooting against the Celtics. "We played one heck of a basketball game."

Pierce and Iverson immediately asserted themselves as the first half brought back memories of Bird dueling with Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan. Pierce scored 14 in the first quarter and Iverson had 11 as Boston grabbed a 27-22 lead.

The pair continued to square off in the second quarter but Pierce again was more productive. He received plenty of help throughout the game from Walker, who finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. Williams made 7-of-10 shots for 17 points.

"We were prepared and focused on this game. We felt like we let one slip away in Game Four," Walker said. "We wanted to come out and show the world that we can play at this level. We needed to take advantage of our home-court advantage."

Iverson received little help as his teammates struggled. Eric Snow, who played well in the last two contests, made just 2-of-12 shots for six points and only two assists. Dikembe Mutombo was the team's second leading scorer with 12 points but he had only two baskets.

"We had a decided advantage inside and we didn't get anything done inside," 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "I don't think our rebounding was a factor at all."

Besides Iverson's play, Philadelphia stayed in the game thanks to a sizable advantage at the free-throw line, converting 25-of-30. Boston went to the line just 11 times and made nine.

The Celtics shot 54 percent (46-of-85) while Philadelphia managed to hit just 39 percent (28-of-71) of its shots.

Philadelphia fell to 3-1 in first-round series with Iverson and also failed to win a road game for just the second time in its last nine series. The Sixers never have won a playoff series after losing the first two games and failed to become the seventh team in NBA history to rally from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series.

The Celtics also received a solid floor game from veteran guard Kenny Anderson, who notched his first playoff series triumph in his 11th season. Anderson scored just eight points but had just one turnover as Boston had a franchise playoff record-low four for the game.

There is heavy speculation that Brown may step down with the season complete but the coach did his part to deflect such talk.

"Unless Mr. Snider (Sixers team chairman Ed Snider) doesn't want me back, I intend to be back," he said.

Boston will visit second-seeded Detroit on Sunday in Game One of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.