for this game

Davis extends Celtics' franchise-record skid

Feb 12, 2007 - 4:21 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Not even a sharp Paul Pierce could end the Boston Celtics' woes. His former teammate wouldn't let it happen.

Despite 29 points from a healthy Pierce, former Celtic Ricky Davis nailed a wide-open jumper with two-tenths of a second left as the Minnesota Timberwolves extended Boston's franchise-record losing streak to 18 games with a dramatic 109-107 victory.

Kevin Garnett had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who won for just the second time in seven games and avoided losing to the league's worst team just two days after an overtime loss to lowly Memphis on Friday.

"(Consistency) is a dilemma that we are faced with," Garnett said. "That is going to be our biggest test to stay consistent with winning and beating the teams that we should beat. Whenever we play the defense that we know we can play, we can beat any team in the league."

Despite the stellar play of Pierce, playing his second game since returning from a foot injury, the Celtics (12-38) prolonged their losing streak that dates to January 5.

"Even though a team has been losing some games, that doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have good players on their team," Garnett said. "That's Boston's case, knowing that (Paul's) been back for a couple games, and they're trying to turn things around."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers agreed that Pierce made a difference.

"We're a different basketball team with Paul in the lineup," Rivers said. "We talked at halftime, and I talked to (the trainer) because I was just going to play him two minutes in the third quarter and let him going the fourth. He said he had no limitations except his body.

"He had a strain. The reason we put him in to start the third is because I don't know what he hurt but he hurt something on his leg and (the trainer) told me I had to get him in right now, and I may not be able to keep him in long. We were just going to read him, but he played well."

If its poor play continues, Boston will challenge Vancouver and Denver, which each lost 23 games in a row to tie for the longest single-season skid. Cleveland dropped an NBA-record 24 straight, bridging two seasons, including the last 19 games of 1981-82 campaign and the first five in 1982-83.

The Celtics host Milwaukee on Wednesday before embarking on a five-game road trip.

"This is tough. The guys played so hard," Pierce said. "We deserved to win, we did everything we could, but down the stretch, they made the last play. It's a bad feeling in the locker room with this loss. It definitely hurts. We've just got to get it out of our head. Eventually, it's going to end."

Shooting 9-of-16 from the field, Pierce took over in the fourth quarter, taking the ball the basket on nearly every possession.

However, it was all for nought thanks to the heroics of Davis, who spent parts of three seasons with Boston before being traded to Minnesota for swingman Wally Szczerbiak in a six-player swap last season.

"It's special when you get traded together with a guy like (Timberwolves forward) Mark (Blount)," Davis said. "It was just a great feeling for us to beat (Boston). (Blount) came over and gave me a big hug (after I hit the game-winner) and got me going, so it's just a great feeling."

With the game tied, 107-107, with just under three seconds left, the ball was inbounded to rookie Randy Foye, who drove the lane and fed Davis on the right baseline for a wide-open go-ahead jumper.

"I knew it was good when they left me to stop Randy," Davis said. "The rookie is playing like a veteran."

According to NBA rules, the Celtics could only tip in a shot with less than three-tenths of a second remaining. Delonte West missed a jumper from the left wing as time expired that would not have counted.

Davis was 11-of-17 from the field - including 3-of-9 from the arc - and Garnett shot 11-of-21 to notch his second triple-double in four days for the Timberwolves, who shot 50 percent (42-of-84).

"There's no choice (but to carry the team)," Garnett said. "(Coach Randy Wittman) said we've got to get 20 wins out of the remaining schedule to try to position ourselves for the playoffs. That's the goal right now, so we're trying to do that."

Ryan Gomes scored 17 points and had 16 and eight assists for the Celtics, who shot 54 percent (35-of-65).

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