Pierce, Celtics Rally Past Wolves
Boston 103, Minnesota 96
BOSTON, Jan. 18 (Ticker) -- Although Paul Pierce's second-half turnaround was vital, the Boston Celtics got contributions from unlikely sources in their comeback.
Pierce scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half while Al Jefferson scored 18 points and Kendrick Perkins added a career-high 17 as the Celtics rallied for a 103-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been reluctant to play them at the same time for most of the season, but the two combined for almost 17 minutes and 12 points in the fourth quarter.
"I hope he can just have the confidence to let us go out there and play together," Jefferson said. "He always said that we're the future. So I'm saying, 'Let's go. Let's go out there right now, make our mistakes and learn from it and let's become better players together.'"
The Timberwolves appeared headed for their fourth straight triumph overall and eighth in their last 10 visits here as they held an 11-point advantage early in the third quarter.
Pierce, who made just 1-of-8 shots in the opening half, scored six points in the third period to help Boston chip away at the deficit. Delonte West added eight of his 14 points in the session, knocking down Minnesota's lead to 73-69 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Celtics took their first lead since the opening quarter thanks to Pierce's hot shooting to start the fourth period.
Boston's captain opened the final quarter with a dunk and converted a conventional three-point play before putting the Celtics up, 77-73, after burying a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
"With the lineup we had out there, I was looking to be aggressive early," Pierce said. "I had some drives to lane and a couple of threes. I was just making sure we ran our stuff."
Boston's second-half surge was magnified on the defensive end of the floor as Minnesota shot just 38 percent in the second half after lighting up the scoreboard for 55 points on 53 percent shooting in the first half.
"We weren't able to do anything on the offensive end that we were doing in the first half," Minnesota superstar Kevin Garnett said. "We were not spacing and moving correctly and we weren't able to figure out what they are doing. They played well when they had to."
"I thought we would respond a little bit more offensively in the second half," Wolves coach Dwane Casey said. "Every big play we had, there was an opportunity to extend the lead and we didn't come up with making the play."
Although Boston briefly surrendered the lead, it regained it for good during a 10-2 burst during which Perkins scored six points. Jefferson capped it with a layup that made it 91-84 with 1:58 remaining.
Garnett scored 13 of his 29 points in the first quarter but managed only two in the fourth period for the Timberwolves. He added 13 rebounds.