for this game

Pierce leads Celtics to 11th straight win

Feb 1, 2009 - 9:29 PM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Even without Kevin Garnett, the Boston Celtics and Paul Pierce were too much for the Minnesota Timberwolves to handle.

Pierce scored 36 points Sunday as the Celtics posted their 11th straight victory with a 109-101 win over Timberwolves.

The Celtics played without their All-Star forward, who missed the game because of the flu.

"I just try to give the game what it needs," Pierce said. "Today I thought it needed my scoring. I don't expect to get 30 points every night. When Kevin's out there, the offense goes through him. I try to save my legs for the playoffs."

It was the second time in four games Garnett had to sit out against his former team since being traded to Boston prior to the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Last year, he was suffering from an abdominal strain when the Celtics went to Minnesota for the first time since the trade.

Earlier this season, Garnett scored 17 points as the Celtics beat the Timberwolves in Minnesota, 95-78, on November 21.

But Pierce was more than capable of picking up the slack in his teammate's absence, shooting 13-of-24 from the field and a perfect 9-of-9 from the free-throw line. The All-Star also added eight rebounds and six assists.

"Well, (Pierce) had to (step up), without KG in the game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We just liked the matchups. The only time I got upset at our guys offensively, in that one stretch when they made their run, we went five possessions in a row and Paul didn't touch the ball."

Boston led 71-50 in the third quarter before Minnesota scored 15 of the next 17 points.

The Timberwolves then got within 94-89 in the fourth quarter with 5:20 left, but Ray Allen hit a jumper and Pierce made a pair of free throws as the Celtics were able to take control of the game down the stretch.

"Well again, unfortunately for us, it was a tale of two halves," Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale said. "We got pretty passive in the first half. It was almost like we were sitting around watching them play a bit. We got some very uncharacteristic turnovers and some things that were kind of funky."

Allen scored 22 points for Boston. Tony Allen added 14 and Glen Davis, who got the starting nod in place of Garnett, finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

"Offensively, we played extremely well" Rivers said. "Defensively, it wasn't one of our better efforts. But I thought a lot of it was them."

The Timberwolves, who dropped their fourth straight, were led by former Celtic Al Jefferson, who scored 34 points.

Jefferson, the main piece going to Minnesota in the eight-player deal that included Garnett, also had 11 rebounds for his 26th double-double of the season.

"In the first half, it wasn't really too much of what they were doing," Jefferson said. "We had too many crazy turnovers. We weren't blocking out, they had too many offensive rebounds. We weren't moving the ball side-to-side. We dug ourselves in a real deep hole."

Jefferson had 16 of his points at the break, but the Celtics opened a 62-44 lead that half, outrebounding the Timberwolves, 27-16.

Randy Foye added 21 points and nine assists for Minnesota, who also got 17 points from Ryan Gomes - another player the Timberwolves received in return for Garnett.

Garnett, who had played every other game except for one in which he was suspended, had a high fever, and Rivers said he will probably miss Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

"(Garnett is) sick. He's really bad. His fever's really high," Rivers said. "He's probably not playing Tuesday. For him to be out of any game, especially today, he's got to be pretty sick."