Celtics stage late rally, beat Nets in OTMar 3, 2007 - 10:54 PM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Looking like they never would get started, the Boston Celtics sure knew how to finish.
Al Jefferson had a career-high 32 points and 18 rebounds as the Celtics staged an improbable rally en route to a 96-88 triumph over the New Jersey Nets in overtime.
Paul Pierce overcame a horrific shooting performance to score 17 points for the Celtics, who trailed by seven points with under a minute remaining in regulation before storming back to stun the Nets.
"We got what we deserved this afternoon," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We didn't come ready to play and win this game. In the first half we had 13 turnovers and we gave them 10 offensive rebounds. They were shooting 20 percent, and we're only up by three. It's very disappointing."
Delonte West was the ringleader late in regulation as he scored seven points in the final 45 seconds, including a 3-pointer with four seconds that tied the game at 83-83.
Pierce had drained a shot from the arc with 11 seconds left to pull the Celtics within 82-80. Eddie House then split a pair of free throws less than a second later for the Nets.
After West's shot tied the game, the Nets failed to see Frank calling for a timeout, and House missed a 36-foot heave as time expired.
"Of course I wanted a timeout, but we inbounded the ball so quickly that when you try to call a timeout, the referees have to hear you," Frank said.
Pierce, who missed his first 11 shots of the game and went 8-of-28 overall, made back-to-back jumpers 27 seconds apart in the extra session to give the Celtics the lead for good at 92-88.
West and Jefferson each made two free throws in the final 29 seconds to seal the Celtics' third straight win.
"What a great win for our guys," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We were out of the game but fought back. The guys really executed in the last two minutes. I couldn't have asked for more."
In the afternoon matinee, the Celtics got off to an extremely slow start, making just four of their first 32 shots. At one juncture, they missed 15 straight attempts from the floor.
But they were able to hang around thanks to Jefferson, who had 12 points in the half that ended with the Nets holding a 36-33 lead.
Jefferson made 5-of-8 shots in the first half. The rest of his teammates were an abysmal 5-of-40.
"He's been big in this building for us," Rivers said. "With Paul struggling, we looked to Al a little more. Every time we needed a bucket, we found him."
West finished with 15 points and Ryan Gomes contributed 11 for Boston, which shot 34 percent (35-of-102) overall and held a 53-48 rebounding advantage.
Vince Carter had 25 points and 10 rebounds and House scored 14 for the sloppy Nets, who committed 21 turnovers in having a three-game winning streak stopped.
"This is a tough one. You can't have mental breakdowns if you're going to accomplish what you want to," Carter said. "We have to refocus and be ready to play night in and night out."
The Nets used a 12-5 run to start the fourth quarter, capped by rookie Marcus Williams' three-point play for a 65-55 lead.
NEW JERSEY 88 FINAL IN 1ST OT
Mar 3 3:55 PM
NEW JERSEY 83 END OF 4TH QTR GOING INTO OVERTIME
Mar 3 3:35 PM
NEW JERSEY 53 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 3 2:56 PM
NEW JERSEY 36 HALFTIME
Mar 3 2:14 PM
NEW JERSEY 20 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 3 1:38 PM
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