Paul Pierce scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Boston Celtics squeaked past the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-92, Saturday night from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI.
Through the first five games of the year, the Celtics were a passive group of veterans, slow on defensive rotations and unable to find the open man on offense.
They were well on their way to doing the same Saturday against the Bucks when something clicked at the half, down 42-39.
Boston came out of the gate firing in the third quarter; a Pierce dunk, back-to-back Jason Terry treys and the Celtics were back in the game, taking a quick 53-47 lead. The Bucks would use an 8-0 run to retake the lead, 55-53 late in the third, including a 6-0 stretch with Kevin Garnett on the bench.
Milwaukee would lead 68-64 heading into the fourth, that is until Jeff Green came alive. Green had eight points in the final frame to get the Celtics close and then it was Pierce's turn to run the show. Pierce and Bucks' guard Monta Ellis went shot-for-shot down the stretch, with their respective teams trading leads.
With the Celtics up two points and Milwaukee in possession, Green would make the game-saving steal with eight seconds remaining in the contest, allowing Pierce to notch a free throw and send Boston back to .500 on the year.
In his first start of the year, Boston guard Terry had 15 points over 22 minutes. He scored six points in the first half and followed that up with six points in the first three minutes of the third quarter to help Boston get back into the game.
After having 10 or more assists in the previous 29-straight games, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo barely kept the streak alive with 10 assists on the night.
Ellis had 32 points and eight assists to lead Milwaukee, while Samuel Dalembert ate up the middle, scoring a season-high 14 points to go along with eight boards.
Boston will have an opportunity to climb back over .500 when they match up with the Chicago Bulls Monday from the United Center in Chicago, IL at 8:00 pm ET.
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