Pierce Leads Celtics Past Sixers
Boston 104, Philadelphia 101
BOSTON, March 9 (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce had all the answers down the stretch.
Pierce collected his sixth career triple-double and continued his clutch shooting as the Boston Celtics stormed back with a late rally for a 104-101 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
"I'm just going out playing the way I know how to play," Pierce said. "We're just having fun, staying positive. We feel like we can win each game. We turned it around ever since we gained a lot of confidence out west and I think it's starting to carry over."
"Clearly, I think it's the best everybody has seen him play," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't remember before I was here. I'm sure he's had some runs, but this is a sustained run. I don't think it's a lot of forced shots. Paul took 18 shots. It isn't like he took 35 shots, you know, and scored and did all the other things that he did."
In Boston's last two victories, Pierce had made the winning shot. He banked in a 3-pointer to beat Indiana on Friday and sank a tough 22-footer to defeat Washington on Tuesday. But the All-Star swingman had a lot of work to do after a 3-pointer by Kyle Korver gave Philadelphia a 97-90 lead with 2:19 to play.
"I think this is a different group of guys, honestly," said Rivers, whose team improved to 9-8 in games decided by three points or less. "They don't give up, they don't pout, they don't point. They just keep thinking."
A dunk and two free throws by rapidly improving rookie Ryan Gomes cut the deficit to 97-94 before a jumper by Allen Iverson made it a five-point game with 1:34 left.
Pierce sank a 3-pointer, then gave Boston a 100-99 lead with another 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.
"We just feel like we can keep it close, we are going to give ourselves a chance. A number of guys stepped up today," Pierce said.
Iverson had a jumper blocked by Tony Allen, leading to two free throws by Pierce with 21 seconds left. Andre Iguodala missed an open 3-pointer before Allen sealed it with two free throws.
"We gave away 3-pointers at the end," Iverson said. "You can't do that, especially in another team's house, one shot here and there and the crowd's back into the game and the momentum is on their side. Our defensive scheme at that point didn't get it done. We just have to play better defense down the stretch to have any chance to win the game."
Gomes had a season-high 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who won without injured point guard Delonte West (groin) for the second straight night. Allen and Orien Greene split the duties, which included guarding Iverson.
"Paul Pierce is one big reason for (winning close games) and Ryan Gomes has been on an unbelievable roll," Rivers said. "I ran one play for him the entire night and he didn't score on it so I decided not to run any more plays for him. Let him get it off garbage."
Known as "The Answer," Iverson scored 32 points but needed 31 shots. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter but was upstaged by Pierce.
"(The game) got away when Pierce hit those two threes," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "He hit two threes, two big threes, he hit one coming down the floor, then he hit another one when they set a double screen for him right in front of me and that's where it got away."
Wally Szczerbiak scored 12 points for the Celtics, who survived 11 fouls in the fourth quarter. They improved to 2-1 vs. the Sixers this season, with the only loss coming in triple overtime.
Chris Webber scored 18 points and Andre Iguodala added 15 for the Sixers (30-30), who have lost two in a row in the final seconds but remained seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Webber did not play in the fourth quarter, which began with a layup by Greene that gave the Celtics a 72-71 edge but was followed by a 12-2 run by the Sixers. Two free throws by Iverson made it 83-75 with 8:13 to play.
"I (made that decision) because the guys we had at the time, we were going well," Cheeks said. "We built a nice little lead. Then when they started to make their run, it was actually too late to put him back in the game but we had a nice little lead and we kept making our little run and I elected to stay with the guys I had."
Webber could not remember sitting out an entire quarter.
"It's never happened," he said. "It's difficult. I didn't (get an explanation). I felt great. I felt really good. I was rebounding pretty well. I felt great."
"If I was a player with what he has on his resume, I would be upset not playing a whole quarter," Iverson said. "If I was in his shoes, I would probably feel the same way. Matter of fact, I know I would, and I might be a little worse, honestly."