Pierce’s Buzzer-Beater Lifts Celtics Over Wiz
Boston 116, Washington 115 (OT)
WASHINGTON, March 7 (Ticker) -- For the first time this season, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics had the last word against Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards.
Pierce sank a difficult fadeaway 22-footer over two defenders at the overtime buzzer to give the Celtics a 116-115 victory over the Wizards.
Pierce scored 31 points and rookie Ryan Gomes added a season-high 27 for the Celtics, who had been victimized by late-game heroics from Arenas in each of the first two meetings this season.
"What really makes me excited is that it (ticks) Gilbert Arenas off because that's what he said the last time," Rivers said. "It was a great win for us."
On January 7, Arenas drew a questionable foul and sank two free throws in the waning seconds to give the Wizards a 103-102 home win over the Celtics. Eighteen days later in Boston, he did the same to snap a tie and give Washington an 89-87 win.
The All-Star guard had a chance to do the same Tuesday. With the score tied, 104-104, and time winding down, Arenas was being defended by Orien Greene. But the rookie cut off any driving lanes and Arenas settled for a pull-up jumper that missed.
Arenas was a handful in overtime, when he scored nine of his 39 points. His jumper, two free throws and three-point play gave Washington a 111-107 lead with 2:45 to go.
Gomes made two free throws before Pierce scored Boston's last seven points. He tied it with a pair from the line at the 53-second mark, then answered Antonio Daniels' two foul shots with a 3-pointer for a 114-113 lead with 28 seconds left.
Arenas drilled a 19-footer to give Washington the lead with 14 seconds to play.
"I just said to myself, 'I don't want to go to more overtimes,'" Pierce said. "I was going to try to do whatever I could to help this team win or else we were just going to lose and go home."
The Celtics went to Pierce, who started well above the top of the circle against Caron Butler, dribbled left along the sideline past a converging Arenas and buried a tough jumper while falling out of bounds as the horn sounded.
"I knew Gilbert Arenas was coming," Pierce said. "When he ran at me, I just kind of dribbled at him. It's tough for a guy to close out when you dribble right at them. Once he ran at me, I just tried to go that way. I think I'm stronger going to my left and pulling up anyway.
"I've shot that shot a number of times. I just knew I wanted the ball to take the last shot regardless, whether they double-teamed or triple-teamed. I got a good look once I jumped up and rose above the crowd, and I knocked down the shot."
The shot gave Boston a 5-3 record in one-point games.
"That's the most clutch shot this year from us, especially in the situation where we're fighting to get into the playoffs," said Gomes, who had nine rebounds and five assists. "It was a tough shot. That's what superstars do."
Wally Szczerbiak scored 23 points for the Celtics, who improved to 2-3 in overtime, winning for the first time since the season opener. He was jostling for rebounding position when Pierce launched the game-winner.
"I was right under the basket and it was money," Szczerbiak said. "Big shot. That was huge."
Antawn Jamison had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Butler scored 23 points for the Wizards, who have lost four of their last five games. Washington wasted a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and fell to 3-2 in overtime.
"These are the ones that are always tough," Jamison said. "For one, it should have never gotten to that point. But it did, and it came down to one shot. I think we did everything that you are supposed to do. We had two guys on him and he hit an unbelievable shot."
Boston played without point guard Delonte West, who missed the game with a strained right groin.