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West's jumper at buzzer gives Celtics first win

Nov 9, 2006 - 3:54 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- A buzzer-beating jumper by struggling Delonte West kept the Boston Celtics from reaching depths the storied franchise had not seen in more than 30 years.

West hit a wide-open jumper from the left wing as time expired in overtime, giving the Celtics a 110-108 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak scored 35 points apiece for Boston, which had lost its first three games but avoided its first 0-4 start since the 1969-70 campaign, the end of their decade of dominance.

"(Getting a win) was the main goal today," Pierce said. "Whatever we have to do, however we have to play, just come into this locker room with a win.

"We just wanted to get the monkey off our back. Get a win and then focus on the rest of these things later."

After Szczerbiak and Pierce carried the Celtics the entire second half and split the club's first four baskets in overtime, Pierce drove right to left into the lane and fed West, who had made just 2-of-9 shots and was in the game only because starting point guard Sebastien Telfair could not contain Bobcats guard Brevin Knight.

"(I'm thinking) I've got to hit this," West said. "When (Pierce) drove I think the whole team sunk in on him and he found a wide-open shooter. I have to give the credit to him. He dominates the game in so many ways and he came up with a big assist tonight and I was just the beneficiary of it."

West, a starter at point guard last season, has been coming off the bench this season and had made just 3-of-16 shots entering the game.

"Size, defense and shot. (He has) all three," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We've been waiting on him. He made a big shot. It was interesting because Paul had a wide open shot but I thought he made the right decision."

Szczerbiak scored 20 points in the third quarter as the Celtics turned a four-point deficit into an 82-74 lead. He hit four 3-pointers, converted two three-point plays and added a pair of free throws. The swingman was 11-for-22 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the line.

"Shots just started to fall for me," Szczerbiak said. "I've been getting good looks in the first half and the first quarter and I didn't make them. That's not going to discourage me. I'm going to keep shooting and stay aggressive. That's what I need to do on this team."

Pierce shot 12-of-21, had 13 rebounds and six assists but committed a career-high 12 turnovers.

After the Bobcats fought back to tie the game at 87-87 with 5:15 left in the fourth, Piece drained a jumper, converted a nifty three-point play after getting fouled on a double-pump jumper and knocked down another jumper to give Boston a 96-89 edge with 2:49 left.

But Charlotte battled back behind seven points from Knight. His free throws with 45 seconds left brought the Bobcats within 100-98.

After a miss by Celtics forward Ryan Gomes from the right corner, Knight drove the lane and fed Sean May, who missed a driving layup. But Gerald Wallace crashed the boards and put back his own miss to tie the game at 100-100 with 10 seconds left.

"We battled back, the good thing was we never gave up," Knight said. "It's kind of that old Bobcat spirit that we haven't seen in a while. To lose in that manner, when a great player makes the correct play, and another good player knocks down the shot, you tip your hat and you move one."

Pierce missed a tough fallaway jumper from just inside the 3-point line as the horn sounded.

"The defense was much better (at the end of regulation)," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Pierce took a difficult shot because we were there and he could not get Szczerbiak the ball because he really got them rolling. He made some terrific shots so we had to deny him the ball."

Gomes posted his first triple-double of his career with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics, who committed 25 turnovers.

Emeka Okafor had season highs of 28 points and 18 rebounds and Knight added a season-high 22 points and seven assists for the Bobcats, who shot just 39 percent (33-of-84) from the field.

"We missed point blank shots and wound up shooting 39 percent," Bickerstaff said. "That's the reason we lost the ballgame. (Boston) showed a lot of heart when they were down in the first half."

Reserves Adam Morrison and Sean May combined for 22 points but shot a combined 6-of-23.

Charlotte guard Raymond Felton strained a lower back muscle in the third quarter and did not return.

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