Pierce Helps Give Celtics Winning Streak
Boston 101, Utah 89
BOSTON, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- It took 10 tries for the Boston Celtics to finally see double.
Paul Pierce scored 30 points and carried things down the stretch as the Celtics put together consecutive wins for the first time this season with a 101-89 victory over the slumping Utah Jazz.
"We finally got that monkey off our backs," Pierce joked. "It wasn't pretty, but we got it done."
Pierce made 11-of-21 shots and 8-of-9 free throws as he took advantage of the absence of Andrei Kirilenko, the Jazz's best defensive player who was sidelined with back spasms.
Pierce was at his best late, scoring the Celtics' final 10 points. His 17-footer with 3:24 remaining provided a 93-82 lead.
"I told Paul with 5:30 left that he needed to get into this game, he needed to take this game over," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I can tell you that I did not mean that."
"I know what he means, but I guess I kind of did it literally," Pierce said. "He means defend and rebound and do all of the little things to help the team win. It was my scoring down the stretch that helped us."
Ricky Davis added 20 points for the Celtics, who reeled off a 16-2 run to start the second quarter to take the lead for good.
The Celtics used their quickness to their advantage the entire game, getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Boston made 37-of-45 free throws while Utah went just 13-of-20 at the line.
"They shot 45 free throws and we shoot 20," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "On the road we're never going to win. You don't have a chance to win."
Sloan was also troubled by Utah's 23 turnovers that led to 29 points for the Celtics. The Jazz turned the ball over three times in less than a minute in the fourth quarter, thwarting any chance of a comeback.
"Three turnovers and we put them on the foul line and all of a sudden it was a 10-point game," said Jazz forward Matt Harpring, who scored 19 points. "It's frustrating because we can be good, and then we don't play as a team."
Mehmet Okur led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who fell to 1-3 on a five-game road trip.
Keith McLeod made 1-of-2 free throws with 9:18 remaining to pull Utah within 78-76. However, the Jazz went cold and managed just two baskets in nearly 6 1/2 minutes as the Celtics rebuilt the lead to 91-80 with 3:53 remaining on two free throws by Delonte West.
West, who missed Monday game after lingering effects from a concussion suffered Saturday in Chicago, had a solid all-around game with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
"I thought the guy who won the game was Delonte West with the little plays," Rivers said. "He had his hands on everything. He got loose balls. His effort and his hustle were the difference in this game."