for this game

Celtics rally for big win over reeling Spurs

Mar 18, 2008 - 4:42 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Sam Cassell hit a 3-pointer with 46.4 seconds left in the game that ultimately gave the Boston Celtics a 93-91 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night at the AT&T Center.

After his shot, the Spurs were able to put pressure on Boston by scoring quickly, but the Celtics hit their free throws. After a pair of free throws by Eddie House gave the Celtics a 93-89 lead, Tony Parker raced down the court for an easy layup.

Bruce Bowen stole the ensuing inbounds pass and found Robert Horry at the 3-point line. Horry's shot to end the game fell short, though, and the Spurs lost their fourth straight game and six of their last seven.

Horry, known for his late-game heroics, had Boston worried.

"I thought it was in," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Every time he does it, it's in. When it's in the air, you just assume."

With Ray Allen missing the game with a jammed left ankle, Cassell was a spark off the bench, scoring 17 points and hitting what turned out to be the game-winner.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo combined to score 63 points for Boston, which found themselves in a big hole early.

San Antonio jumped out to a 28-11 lead after the first quarter, as the Celtics were only 4-of-17 from the field. It was the lowest number of points Boston has scored in a quarter this season.

"This is a big win because we were getting our butts kicked, and we didn't panic," Rivers said.

Ginobili's hot hand guided the Spurs early, as he scored 18 of his 32 points in the first half.

But Boston looked like a different team in the second half. Rondo heated up, scoring 12 points in the third quarter, helping the Celtics make a 15-2 run to open the second half. Boston took a 56-55 lead - its first of the game - on Pierce's fast-break dunk with 8:24 left in the third.

"I'm mad that we were up 22 and blew it. I know we're playing one of the best teams in the league in the Celtics, but there is no excuse," Horry said. "It's tough to maintain big leads like that against good teams, but you have to defend home court. You have to."

Parker's 3-pointer late in the third gave the Spurs a 67-64 edge and, both teams exchanged leads late in the game, but San Antonio looked like it was in control.

That's when Pierce drove to the rim, was fouled and completed the three-point play to cut the Spurs' lead to 83-81 with 3:11 left in the game.

"It was good to be right there at the end of this one. You don't want guys to get down and feel like, 'Oh, we lost this one, too.' Momentum changes in basketball, and for Boston, it changed in their favor," Bowen said.

House hit a 3-pointer from the corner that cut the Spurs' lead to 85-84 with under two minutes left in the game. On the next possession, though, Parker found Tim Duncan for an easy layup.

It wasn't too much later when Cassell dribbled up and drilled his game-changing shot.

Bowen and Horry admitted afterwards they should have called a timeout after the inbounds pass was stolen, but said it's not as easy as it looks.

"Well, people think it's so easy, but in that situation, there is so much adrenaline running through you. At that point, you don't think about a timeout," Horry said. "You don't want to mess around and call one when you don't have one. But yeah, Bruce should have called one, I should have called one."

Pierce had one explanation why the final shot went their way.

"What'd you expect on St. Patrick's Day?" Pierce joked. "They weren't wearing green."