102 - 97 Final - OT
  for this game

Celtics hold off Bucks in OT

Nov 16, 2008 - 6:04 AM By Dave Cotey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics put a rare home loss behind them quickly.

The Big Three - Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - combined for 70 points as the Celtics defeated the undermanned Milwaukee Bucks, 102-97, in overtime Saturday.

Allen finished with 27 points, including four game-clinching free throws in the final 25 seconds for the Celtics. Pierce had a game-high 28 points with seven rebounds and six assists and Garnett scored 15 for Boston.

"We could have been better," Allen said. "When it counted the most, we were there, but when it counted the most in overtime and in the fourth quarter, we could have done better. We were lucky to win it from the line in overtime."

On Friday, the Celtics lost at home to the Denver Nuggets, 94-85 - Boston's first regular-season home loss since March 24. That loss snapped the Celtics' six-game winning streak.

"That's what we focus on," Pierce said. "You never want to have back-to-back losses. That's what we focused on last year, that's what we focus on this year - stop the bleeding before it starts."

Andrew Bogut scored 20 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter for Milwaukee, which lost for the fourth time in six games and fell to 3-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets.

The Bucks were without leading-scorer Michael Redd for the seventh straight game because of a right ankle sprain. Charlie Villanueva, another starter, missed his second straight contest with a strained left hamstring.

In overtime, Bucks rookie forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made a pair of foul shots with 2:32 remaining to give Milwaukee a 95-93 lead. But on the other end, after Allen missed a 3-pointer and Garnett hauled in the rebound, Pierce drilled a three from the top of the key to give Boston the slight edge, 96-95, with 2:12 left.

Dan Gadzuric threw down a two-handed dunk with 1:07 remaining that gave Milwaukee a 97-96 lead.

Allen made two free throws with just under 25 seconds left and then two more with 10 ticks remaining after Milwaukee's Richard Jefferson missed a jumper.

Gadzuric then took an ill-advised two-point shot with his team trailing by three after Allen's series of free throws.

"After the first two minutes of bad basketball on both sides, we got some stops," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We were searching for buckets. We were tired."

Mbah a Moute's three-point play with 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Bucks an 89-88 lead, their first since early in the first quarter.

"I thought we did pretty good, especially coming back in that second half and taking it to overtime," Mbah a Moute said. "We have lapses where we don't play as well and against teams like this, they just take full advantage of it."

Pierce, however, answered with a pair of foul shots just seconds later to give Boston an 89-88 advantage. Following Mbah a Moute's miss on the other end, Pierce hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 93-84 lead with 2:09 left.

Jefferson's jumper in the lane trimmed the lead to 93-91 with 1:41 left, and Luke Ridnour's layup with less than two seconds left tied the score at 93-93.

"We just started getting aggressive and started driving to the basket," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.

Earlier in the fourth, tempers flared when Garnett and Bogut got tangled up underneath the Bucks' basket resulting in double technicals and Bogut's ejection.

"(That was) two guys that don't want to fight talking," Rivers said. "Nobody wants to fight, and I'm glad. It's a basketball game. I was just worried about our composure. Teams are talking to us - we're a target. I think we're responding to it too much."

The Celtics held a double-digit lead for much of the third quarter and led by as many as 15 at 69-54 when reserve Brian Scalabrine drilled a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:05 left in the period.

Jefferson, the Bucks' second-leading scorer behind Redd, spent the final 8:42 of the first half on the bench with three fouls.