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Pierce, Celtics edge T-Wolves

Jan 4, 2011 - 5:06 AM Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce scored 23 points and Ray Allen added 20, as the Boston Celtics pulled out a 96-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rajon Rondo had 16 assists and hit several key jumpers down the stretch to help Boston win its second consecutive game. Glen Davis added 17 points in the victory.

The Celtics overcame a big game by Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who pulled down 24 rebounds -- a TD Garden record. Love had just six fewer rebounds than the Celtics, and added 12 points, but couldn't prevent Minnesota from losing to Boston for an eighth consecutive time.

Michael Beasley finished with 19 points for the Timberwolves, who had won three of four.

The teams' shot-making abilities kept the game close down the stretch -- over the final 3 1/2 minutes, Boston missed just one shot, while Minnesota missed three.

The Celtics trailed by as many as eight in the fourth, but with 3:35 to play, Pierce drained a three-pointer to trim the deficit to 85-83. Pierce scored only five points in the first half, but came alive in the second after a halftime talk with Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

"Doc at the half wanted me to be a little more aggressive," Pierce said. "I was out there trying to make plays and I forgot that we had Rondo out there doing that so I can go back to my customary role of scoring the ball. That's what I tried to do in the second half."

Boston took the lead several possessions later, when Rondo fed the ball inside for Shaquille O'Neal. It wasn't a smooth pass, as the ball bounced up in the air. But O'Neal had boxed out Love and managed to sink the layup, giving the Celtics an 88-87 edge with 2:09 to play.

The teams traded baskets again, and Boston got a key opening when Love missed a three-pointer with a little more than a minute left. Allen got the rebound and found Davis open for a fast-break opportunity, forcing Luke Ridnour to foul to prevent the easy bucket. Davis sank both free throws for a 92-89 Celtics edge.

The left-handed Beasley frequently set up on the left side for mid-range jumpers down the stretch, and hit two inside the final minute to keep Minnesota close. His second, with 31.7 seconds remaining, trimmed the Celtics' lead to 94-93.

Boston drained time off the clock before Rondo missed a jumper, but there were still 10.3 seconds to go when Love secured the rebound. Love, who is noted for his outlet passing skill, had a teammate open down the court and started his motion when a timeout was called.

Love showed the frustration on his face, but the timeout allowed Minnesota to inbound the ball into a half-court set. Ridnour broke away from Rondo and accepted the inbound pass as he streaked to the hoop with the lane wide open.

But the promising play quickly deteriorated, as Ridnour was called for traveling. Even if the foul hadn't been called, Allen ran in to block Ridnour's layup.

"I didn't think it was a travel," Beasley said. "It was a great block by Ray Allen, but I didn't think it was a travel. The fact [is] that he had the same layup in the first half and they didn't call a travel on him. I'm not a referee. That's how they decided to call the game."

Nate Robinson then ran around in the backcourt before being fouled with 4.6 seconds to play, and knocked down both attempts to put Boston ahead by three.

After a Celtics foul, Minnesota inbounded the ball with 1.8 seconds remaining, but Beasley's turnaround try was well off the mark.

Minnesota held a 25-17 lead after the first quarter and a 47-43 edge at halftime, then extended its advantage to a game-high 10 several times in the third quarter.

Beasley's jumper made it a 67-57 contest with 4:24 left, but Pierce scored the next six points, and Boston was within 73-70 moving to the fourth.

Game Notes

Minnesota has dropped its last six games in Boston...Ridnour finished with 13 points for the Timberwolves...Despite Love's rebounding dominance, the Celtics held a 38-26 advantage in points in the paint...Davis and O'Neal combined for three boards...Von Wafer provided 10 points and six rebounds off the bench for Boston.