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Pierce leads Celtics to rare win over Spurs

Mar 18, 2007 - 5:54 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- By taking matters into his own hands, Paul Pierce helped the Boston Celtics finally defeat the San Antonio Spurs.

Pierce scored 30 points and netted six of his team's final eight as the Celtics snapped an 18-game losing streak against the Spurs with a 91-85 victory.

Al Jefferson had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, which had not beaten San Antonio since January 8, 1997, and had not won in the "Alamo City" since February 14, 1990.

"It was nice. Everyone contributed, and to get this monkey off our back with the (drought) is nice too," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "But I was more impressed with regaining our composure, hanging in there, getting stops. Defensively, I thought we were phenomenal the entire night. It was just a great win for us."

In his ninth season with the Celtics, Pierce had never been on the winning side against the Spurs. On Saturday, he changed that, torching San Antonio defensive specialist Bruce Bowen with numerous fadeways and step-back jumpers.

"I'm the type of player that wants the ball down the stretch if the game is close," Pierce said. "I thrive in those situations, whether I"m shooting the shot or making the pass. That's just the type of player I am."

Leading, 77-64, with 11:24 left, the Celtics let the Spurs back in the game. San Antonio went on a 29-8 run to take an 85-83 advantage, capped by Tim Duncan's runner with 1:34 remaining.

But Pierce would not let his squad lose, scoring the next six points to give Boston an 89-85 lead with 17 seconds left.

"It was a great fourth quarter and a tough loss," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "We played great in the fourth quarter. Boston played well for three quarters and for that reason they deserved to win.

"In the fourth quarter, we came back and did a great job. We got a lot of rebounds, but we missed free throws, we missed layups and Pierce got us. The layups, free throws and too much Pierce got us once we tied it up."

In his 10th season, Duncan had never lost to the Celtics. On Saturday, he did his part, collecting 20 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks for the Spurs, who shot just 37 percent (28-of-75) from the field.

After a season-high 13-game winning streak, San Antonio has dropped consecutive games to lowly Milwaukee and Boston.

"We really have to step up and play with more aggressiveness," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "Knowing that we have 16 games until the playoffs, we should be in way better shape. The 13-game streak doesn't count for anything. We have to be more humble and come to compete every single time."

Duncan admitted that it comes down to focus on the defensive end.

"Defensively, we haven't been as solid as we were for the 10 previous games," Duncan said. "We've just been giving up too many high-percentage shots and points in the paint."

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