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Pierce scores 21 points for Celts

2/27/2004

BOSTON (AP) -- Either the Boston Celtics or the Toronto Raptors
were going home with something they hadn't experienced in seven
games -- a win.

"It was just great to get a win," Celtics interim head coach
John Carroll said following the Celtics' 88-75 victory over the
Raptors on Friday night. "We played a great first half and did a
lot of good things."

The Raptors, who have dropped to seventh place in the East, held
the lead only once in the first quarter and never rebounded from a
nearly three-minute scoring drought in which the Celtics took a
30-18 lead.

"We won 50 games the last two years when I was in Detroit, but
we had streaks of eight or nine losses," said Raptors forward
Michael Curry, who had 10 points. "It happens. You have to weather
the storm."

Paul Pierce scored 21 points and Brandon Hunter scored 11 points
and grabbed 16 rebounds in his second career start.

"He's been phenomenal the last two games," Pierce said of
Hunter. "He's helping us out in an area we've struggled in all
season long."

The seven-game losing streak was the Celtics' longest since they
dropped 10 in a row from March 20 to April 7, 2000.

Boston's advantage swelled to as many as 26 points, 63-37, in
the third quarter after Chucky Atkins fed Pierce in transition for
a layup.

"I didn't feel anything positive went on out there tonight,"
Raptors head coach Kevin O'Neill said. "That was not warm and
fuzzy, that's for sure."

Mark Blount had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, and
Hunter and Jiri Welsch added 11 points each.

Donyell Marshall recorded his 25th double-double of the season,
scoring 19 points with 13 rebounds for Toronto. Lamond Murray added
10 points.

Carroll said he talked to his good friend O'Neill earlier in the
week.

"Misery loves company," Carroll said of the phone call. "I
figured if I talked to Kevin about it, at least my wife wouldn't
have to hear about it when I got home."

Game notes
Hunter had seven rebounds in the first quarter. ... Fans
gave Celtics legend Bill Russell a standing ovation in the second
quarter. Russell turned 70 on Feb. 12. ... Raptors guard Vince Carter, who has been on the injured list the past five games with a
moderate left ankle sprain, is eligible to return Sunday against
the Celtics in Toronto. ... The Raptors announced that guard Alvin Williams, who has missed the last three games, will undergo
arthroscopic knee surgery to relieve swelling in his left knee.