for this game

Pierce scores 27 as Celtics hold off Heat

Dec 1, 2007 - 5:19 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- It wasn't as easy on Friday, but the result was the same for the Boston Celtics.

Paul Pierce scored 27 points and Kevin Garnett added 23 and nine rebounds to lead the Celtics to a 95-85 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday.

Ray Allen added 17 points despite shooting just 3-of-17 from the floor for Boston, which forced 24 turnovers en route to its second straight win.

After dominating the New York Knicks in near-historic fashion on Thursday with a 104-59 drubbing, the Celtics ran into an opponent with a little more heart on Friday.

"We let our guard down, but give them credit," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "They attacked, they didn't give in."

After pushing the lead to 28 points late in the third quarter, the Heat put a scare into Boston with a spirited run in the final period.

"We knew they were going to make a run at one point," Garnett said.

Jason Williams and rookie Daequan Cook nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to open the final quarter as Miami used a 24-3 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to turn a laugher into a nail-biter.

"Finally, we found the combination of offensive players and guys that could make shots, and we cut it to 16 immediately," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Then the game, sort of, became a game."

When Williams, who led the team with 22 points, buried a 3-pointer with 3:54 left in the game, the Heat trailed just 86-79 and appeared to have all the momentum.

But the Celtics refused to fold, and Allen, who had been enduring a terrible shooting night, scored his team's next five points to put out the fire.

Boston jumped out in the first quarter behind some hot shooting from Pierce, who knocked down all three of his 3-point attempts, all five of his free throws and 5-of-6 field goals. His pair of free throws with two seconds remaining staked the Celtics to a 31-25 lead after the opening quarter.

"I made shots, the ball was going in tonight," Pierce said.

Boston pushed the lead to 40-26 with a 9-1 run to begin the second.

"We wanted to make sure we got off to (the) good start that we've had in the last couple of games and we did that," Pierce said.

Williams, who was coming off the bench for the second straight game, kept the Heat close with eight points over the next 1 1/2 minutes to make the score 45-36 with 5:22 left before the half.

But Boston put its foot back on the gas, using a 12-0 run to push the lead over 20 points at 57-36 for the first time in the game. Garnett scored five points during the spurt.

Garnett stayed hot in the second half, scoring 10 points in the third quarter. Pierce gave the Celtics their biggest lead of the night with 46 seconds remaining in the third when he knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 83-55.

"The second half, I wanted to pick my play up and be a lot more aggressive, take what was given to me, and I took my shots," Garnett said.

Boston, which entered the game second in the NBA in team field-goal percentage at 48.9, connected on just one of its first 12 attempts from the floor in the final quarter and finished the game at 39 percent (29-of-73) from the floor.

Udonis Haslem scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Shaquille O'Neal added 13 and 11 for the Heat, who fell to just 4-11 with the loss.