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12-2 fourth-quarter run gives Boston lead for good

BOSTON (AP) -- Al Jefferson, scared to find himself on the floor
in crunch time, kept his wits long enough to guide Boston to a
victory.

Paul Pierce had 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Jefferson added
a career-high 17 points -- including a pair of key baskets down the
stretch -- to lead the Boston Celtics past the Bulls 92-83 Wednesday
night, snapping Chicago's seven-game winning streak.

Jefferson led the charge as the Celtics rallied from a 66-57
deficit with a 12-2 run midway through the fourth quarter.

Jefferson gave Boston its first lead since early in the third
quarter and put the Celtics ahead to stay with a pair of free
throws with 7:56 left, then capped Boston's decisive run with a
pair of baskets, including a floater as the shot clock expired,
that put the Celtics up 84-77 with 5:05 left.

"I'm not used to being out there that late in the game," said
Jefferson. "I was (scared), I really was. That's where I want to
be, but it's still a little frightening. But I didn't show it."

The win was Boston's 10th in its last 12 home games as the
Celtics kept pace with Philadelphia atop the Atlantic Division
despite an 18-20 record.

"That was a very good win for us," said Boston coach Doc
Rivers. "You look at Chicago and they've been playing so well, and
we came out and defended them tonight."

The Bulls pulled within 84-80 before Pierce hit a field goal and
knocked down four free throws for a 90-80 lead with 1:10 left.

Eddy Curry scored 26 points, Kirk Hinrich added 12 points and
Tyson Chandler scored eight points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the
Bulls, who held their opponent below 100 points for the 23rd
consecutive game.

"We couldn't make our shots tonight," said Chicago coach Scott
Skiles. "We didn't play poorly. We just had trouble putting the
ball in the hole.

Jefferson, the talented power forward who jumped straight from
high school to the NBA, has been playing more and more lately and
is inching closer to a spot in the starting lineup, especially
given the increasingly ineffective play of center Mark Blount.
Blount had one of his worst games as a pro, going scoreless and
failing to grab a rebound in 22 minutes.

"I don't know about the starting lineup. That'll come," said
Rivers of Jefferson. "He'll earn that. But he's earning minutes,
there's no doubt about that. He deserves to be on the floor."

The Bulls erased a three-point halftime deficit by opening the
third quarter with a 19-7 run. Hinrich scored seven points during
that stretch, including baskets on consecutive possessions to give
Chicago a nine-point lead with 6:30 left in the third quarter.

Boston responded with an 11-3 run to close the quarter, pulling
to 69-68.

After trailing by as much as eight early in the first quarter,
Boston led 50-47 at halftime. Pierce scored 20 points on 8-of-16
shooting from the field to lead all scorers.

Game notes
The announced attendance of 13,109 was the third-lowest for
a Celtics home game this season. ... Hinrich scored in double
figures for the 21th straight game, and Curry scored at least 10
points for the 20th consecutive time. ... Boston improved to 3-6
against teams from the Central Division.