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Pierce leads Celtics to comeback win over Raptors

Nov 11, 2008 - 7:26 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce scored 22 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Boston Celtics to a 94-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

Pierce scored a season-low eight points in a win at Detroit on Sunday, but rebounded with his best outing of the season. He added nine rebounds and four assists for the Celtics.

Boston got off to a slow start, scoring just 36 points in the first half. The Celtics still trailed, 65-59, after three quarters - but outscored the Raptors, 35-22, in the fourth thanks to Pierce.

"I just took advantage of the opportunities, I like to play within the flow of the offense; we ran our stuff and I got caught in situations where I had opportunities to score," Pierce said. "When I didn't, I tried to find other guys and that's the way we play."

"Paul is such a great scorer, the one thing you know he said, 'You know I'm going to keep shooting, that's the one thing you never have to worry about me is lack of confidence.'," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "That's why he's such a great player, that's why great players are great players."

Jermaine O'Neal scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Anthony Parker scored 15 and Jason Kapono 14 for Toronto.

Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Ray Allen added 19 points for the Celtics, who scored 58 points in the second half after their slow start.

Garnett was quick to credit Pierce for the turnaround.

"I love when Superman goes in the booth and transforms, I love it," Garnett said. "I got the best seat in the house, I get to hear what's going on in the huddle, and I get to see it,"

After a block by center Kendrick Perkins Pierce hit a jumper to give the Celtics an 86-84 lead with 1:38 to play.

O'Neal, who had his shot blocked by Perkins on Toronto's previous possession, then lost the ball out of bounds and Pierce struck again, drilling a jumper to put Boston up four. Pierce extended the lead to 90-84 with a driving layup with 34 seconds left.

"We just didn't make the plays at the end of the game. We turned down a host of shots," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "Paul Pierce was great, but we were right there. Yeah they played good defense, we played good defense for most part of the game, but we just didn't make plays on the offensive end."

"You look at the shots Paul Pierce made, he drove the basket a couple of times, but he was making a lot of 18, 19-foot shots with guys contesting it."

O'Neal was most effective over the first two quarters. He scored 10 of the Raptors' first 14 points finished the first half with 19 points as the Raptors built a 48-36 lead at the break.

"This is one of the loudest arenas in the league," O'Neal said. "They have a lot of people that come in and make a lot of noise, talk a lot of trash but overall it didn't really bother us, we just didn't execute."