for this game

Pierce, Celtics top Bucks, end 18-game skid

Feb 15, 2007 - 5:23 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics finally can breathe a sigh of relief.

In just his third game back from injury, Paul Pierce scored 31 points and Gerald Green added 21 off the bench as the Celtics snapped their franchise-record 18-game losing streak with a 117-97 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Al Jefferson collected 17 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, which was just five games shy of tying the NBA single-season record of 23 straight losses, set by the Vancouver-Memphis franchise and Denver.

Cleveland dropped 24 in a row, bridging two seasons, including the final 19 games of the 1981-82 campaign and the opening five in 1982-83.

"The guys are so relieved," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "They are taking monkeys off each others' backs and all that kind of stuff. It's just a relief to get that done and win a game."

Pierce was not as excited.

"We're not going to get in a complete celebration," Pierce said. "It's only our 13th win of the season. Right now, we are just taking it one step at a time. We know it's going to be tough to make the playoffs, so we'll just take it one game at a time and try to get better as a team."

One of the most storied franchises in sports' history, the Celtics have won 16 championships and had multiple Hall of Fame players over the years, forming one of the most loyal and rabid fan bases in the NBA.

"Our crowd has been amazing," Rivers said. "This isn't Philadelphia."

On Wednesday, however, the crowd at the TD BankNorth Garden gave a standing ovation - not for another NBA championship - but for the end of the franchise's longest skid.

It could have gotten worse for Boston, which embarks on tough six-game road trip after the All-Star break against Western Conference contenders Sacramento, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, utah and Houston.

But the Celtics snapped out of their deep funk thanks to Pierce, who shot 12-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range to give his team a go-to scorer down the stretch.

"We definitely eyed this game (as a chance to end the streak)," Pierce said. "Milwaukee had a lot of pieces missing so we wanted to take advantage of that. They are missing a lot of key guys so this was an opportunity to end that losing streak before heading out West."

Green shot 8-of-9 from the field, including nailing all five of his 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. Jefferson was 7-of-13 from the floor for the Celtics, who shot 55 percent (45-of-82).

Mo Williams scored 31 points and Charlie Bell added 24 for the Bucks, who shot 51 percent (39-of-76) to absorb their fourth straight loss.

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