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Pierce leads Celtics to fifth straight win

Dec 17, 2006 - 5:07 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce lifted the Boston Celtics into a category of their own.

Pierce scored 35 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Al Jefferson added 22 and 10 as the Celtics extended their season-high winning streak to five games with a 106-100 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Delonte West had 14 points for Boston, which is the lone team in the NBA to have a winning record on the road (6-5) and a losing record at home (4-8).

With 2:45 left and Boston facing a 97-94 deficit, Pierce drove to the basket, drawing Emeka Okafor - who tied a career high with eight blocks - before finding Jefferson for layup.

"We're starting to make plays down the stretch," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It takes time for great execution."

Pierce sank two foul shots 39 seconds later, giving the Celtics the lead for good at 98-97. After a bad turnover by the Bobcats on a 3-on-1 break, Pierce drained a jumper from the elbow with 39 ticks remaining for a three-point cushion.

"We trust each other out there," Jefferson said. "Defense did it tonight. When we tried to get stops, we got stops. When we needed to get scores, we got scores. We got the ball in our captain's hands (Pierce) and let him take over."

"That's what our problems were down the stretch," Pierce said. "We were making turnovers, not getting stops and not getting the shots we were looking for. We've just decided that we're tired of beating ourselves."

Boston sank its final six foul shots to seal it, ending a two-game slide in Charlotte.

"There were a lot of reasons for us to not win the game tonight, but our guys sucked it up and we won the game," Rivers said. "Of all the games (during this streak), this is the win I'm most proud of."

"We've got a great 1-2 punch with Paul and Al and those guys came up big and knocked their shots down and we came out with the win," West said.

Gerald Wallace scored a season-high 31 points and Raymond Felton and rookie Adam Morrison each added 16 for Charlotte, which committed 16 turnovers. Okafor tied a career high with 19 boards and added 12 points.

"They (Celtics) gave us opportunity after opportunity to win this ballgame and we didn't capitalize on it," Wallace said.

Both teams lost players to a right ankle injury. Bobcats forward Sean May scored eight points before departing in the second quarter. Celtics swingman Wally Szczerbiak went down in the third period after totaling two points.

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