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Pierce helps Celtics get over hump out West

Feb 25, 2008 - 3:09 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- All-Star Paul Pierce finally gave the Boston Celtics a reason to smile on their West Coast swing.

Pierce poured in 30 points to help the Celtics rally from 17 down for a 112-102 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

It was the first triumph in four tries on Boston's five-game tour of the Western Conference that features losses at Golden State, Phoenix and Denver.

"I had it on my mind from the way I played last game, one of the top-five worst games of my career, to come out and focus a little better," said Pierce, who connected on 12-of-14 shots after making just two against Phoenix. "The shots were there when I would take them and I was able to knock them down in Portland."

All-Star Ray Allen scored 19 points and Rajon Rondo chipped in 15 for Boston, which wraps up its West Coast swing at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

"I think we just stayed patient with ourselves, the game plans and new that we were good enough to get things going again," Allen said. "We got another chance to get a win and that's what we'll be focused on doing."

With the Blazers holding a 54-47 edge at halftime, the Celtics took the lead for good in the third quarter by outscoring their opponent by a 17-point margin.

Tied at 61-61, Boston closed out the period on an aggressive 18-10 surge that created an eight-point lead heading into the decisive quarter.

"After we took control of the ball a little better and were able to get the lead, we were able to run our offense, make the extra pass and do what we wanted to do," Pierce said.

The Celtics continued to added to their advantage as Pierce netted six straight points during a 17-4 burst to extend the lead to 96-77 on James Posey's dunk with 6:39 remaining.

"Once we were able control them crashing the boards and taking the high percentage shoot, it was a whole different ball game," said Posey, who hit three of Boston's 14 3-pointers. "During that stretch we moved the basketball and got good shots."

Portland came out on fire from the tip as LaMarcus Aldridge and Jarrett Jack combined for 13 points to help build a 32-16 edge after one quarter.

"We eased into the game and they came out excited and attacked us," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We didn't handle it very well. We were down 17 at one point and then at one point to have a 19 point lead, that's impressive. But it was our defense that one the game."

Travis Outlaw had 23 points off the bench and Jack added 17 for the Trail Blazers, who have dropped seven of their last eight games to fell four and a half games out of the final playoff slot.

Midway through the first half, Blazers All-Star Brandon Roy tweaked his already sore right ankle then re-aggravated it in the third, forcing him to sit out the rest of the way.

"I saw (Roy) limping early in the game and we were trying to get Paul (isolated) to try and take advantage of him," Rivers said. "You could see he wasn't himself. That clearly hurts Portland. He's not just their scorer, he's their point guard. He does everything. That hurt them, no doubt about it."

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