Paul Pierce had 35 points and 12 rebounds as the Boston Celtics fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 99-94, Friday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA.
Milwaukee entered the third quarter trailing by only three after cutting a 10-point lead to make it a ballgame entering the second half.
Boston and the Bucks would trade baskets throughout most of the third quarter as Monta Ellis scored eight of his 19 in the game to keep Milwaukee close.
But the Celtics closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to open a 70-62 lead entering the fourth. Rajon Rondo had two steals as Jeff Green, Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee all came up huge in the stretch.
The Bucks refused, yet again, to let the game get away though, scoring nine points in the first three minutes to make it a one-possession game early in the final frame.
Just as the Celtics looked like they were letting this one slip away, Pierce took one more step into the time machine, putting together the epitome of a Paul Pierce sequence of events.
Pierce hit back-to-back threes, including a steal on the defensive end in less than a minute to cut the Milwaukee lead to one. Pierce would miss his next two shots, but Ellis would answer with a runner in the lane to push the Bucks lead to three late. A Larry Sanders poster dunk over Kevin Garnett advanced the Milwaukee lead to six and it looked like the game was over.
But Boston never gave up.
Behind two free throws from Pierce, a beautifully-designed play that led to a Green dunk and a Pierce trey, the Celtics came back to tie the score, using a 7-0 run in the last 30 seconds to send the game into overtime.
Whatever offense Boston mustered in the last 30 seconds of regulation disappeared in overtime. Rondo's layup at the 3:58 mark was the only score of a Celtics player, while the Bucks' Ellis made it a two-possession game late in overtime.
After a Pierce two, the Bucks had three players under the basket and somehow fumbled the ball back to Boston, leading to Garnett for two and a tie game.
Milwaukee would knock their free throws down, and with the Bucks leading by three in the final seconds, Pierce missed a trey that could have tied it, allowing Sanders to score in transition and walk away with the win.
Ellis had 27 points to lead Milwaukee, while Brandon Jennings notched 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists on the night.
Jason Terry struggled from the field, shooting 1-of-15 for four points in 32 minutes for the Celtics.
On the other hand, Green had an outstanding night on the floor. Green scored 14 points, had four steals, three rebounds, two blocks and two assists off the bench. In the final seconds of overtime, while going up for a rebound, Green received an errant elbow to the side of the face. He was down for several minutes and eventually was escorted to the back.
For the first time since 2005-06, the Bucks took a season series from the Celtics, 3-1.
The loss also breaks a streak of five-consecutive wins at home for Boston.
Boston starts off a four-game road trip Tuesday, when they travel to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on Christmas Day to face off against Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets at 12:00 pm ET.
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