for this game

Minus Garnett, Celtics hang on to edge Timberwolves

Feb 9, 2008 - 6:02 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Reserve Leon Powe and the Boston Celtics pulled one out at the end.

Powe scored 16 points, including a putback with two-tenths of a second remaining, to lift the Celtics over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 88-86, on Friday.

Paul Pierce had 18 points and six assists and Ray Allen scored 17 for Boston, which has won two straight and four of five.

"It was a great win for us," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We were struggling offensively and defensively in the first half and, really, all game. We turned it over and were really sloppy. But we just ground it out enough to get the right stop and the right shot."

The Celtics have accomplished this without the services of All-Star Kevin Garnett, who missed his sixth consecutive game with an abdominal strain - this one against his former club.

Boston is 4-2 without Garnett, an 11-time All-Star who is in his first season with the Celtics following an offseason trade from Minnesota.

"Kevin has been better than we expected," Rivers said. "Not only just as a player, but as a teammate. He's been great on the floor, but he's been even more valuable in the locker room."

After Boston tied the score at 86-86 on an 18-foot jumper by Rajon Rondo in the face of Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair with 28 seconds left, the Celtics won the game on a bang-bang play at the end.

Minnesota's Marko Jaric missed a 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining, leading to a fast-break attempt the other way for Boston.

Allen drove to the basket as the shot clock wound down but was stripped from behind by the hustling Jaric, who knocked the basketball to the floor.

However, Powe, who also had eight boards off the bench and was trailing on the play, grabbed the ball and laid it in as the game clock expired.

"I saw an opening where I could run the lane just in case (Allen) missed," Powe said. "But I didn't think he was going to miss. He missed even though I thought that he was fouled. I put it in anyway."

"Of course it stings, it always stings when you lose," Timberwolves rookie swingman Corey Brewer said. "We play hard to the wire, they just made the last shot. We just have to move on and get ready for Toronto."

Replays showed the second-year forward out of California released his follow shot before the red light on the backboard signaled the end of the game.

"I knew I got it off in time," Powe said confidently. "The only question was whether Ray was going to the line or not."

Rondo had 12 points and seven rebounds and Eddie House scored 14 points off the bench for the Celtics, who shot 46 percent (34-of-74) and took the season series from the Timberwolves in another close affair.

In the game which he initially suffered his current injury, Garnett made a game-saving steal against his former team in the final seconds of an 87-86 win in Boston on January 25.

"This was a tough one," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "We had them beat twice, but we're 0-2, that's the bottom line. We didn't make enough plays to finish them off in both games. Our guys fought hard."

"We don't want to see (the Timberwolves) any more, that's for sure," Rivers said. "Two games that came down to the last play, that's amazing."

Al Jefferson had 18 points and nine boards and reserve Craig Smith had 16 and seven for Minnesota, which shot 42 percent (35-of-84) in dropping its second game in a row.