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Mason scores Bucks' final 14 points in vain

BOSTON (AP) -- Ricky Davis and Paul Pierce turned a mediocre
performance by the Boston Celtics into another step toward the
team's first Atlantic Division title in 14 years.

Davis scored seven points in the last 5:21, including the
go-ahead basket, and the Celtics held off a late threat for a
103-97 win Wednesday night over the Milwaukee Bucks, who played
without top scorer Michael Redd. Pierce scored 11 of the Celtics'
first 22 points of the fourth quarter.

"We did enough things to win the game," Boston coach Doc
Rivers said. "At this point, if you don't play well and you win,
you count that as a bonus."

The Celtics remained 3½ games ahead of Philadelphia in the
division and have seven games left. The 76ers, who beat Charlotte
on Wednesday night, have eight.

"We're playing for home court (advantage) with Indiana right
down our backs," Pierce said. "Every game is getting very
important.

Milwaukee was eliminated from playoff contention after losing
for the ninth time in 10 games and 10th straight on the road.

"Not having guys healthy throughout the course of the season
was a factor," said Desmond Mason, who led the Bucks with 23
points. "We never really developed a solid rhythm."

Davis led Boston with 27 points, the 18th time he scored at
least 20 as a substitute this season. Pierce added 26, with 22
coming in the second half.

"He was great" after intermission, Rivers said of Pierce.
"Because he moved the ball so much, they stopped denying him (the
ball) and I thought Paul got shots."

Mason scored Milwaukee's last 14 points, cutting the lead to
99-97 with a three-point play with 18 seconds left. Then Davis hit
two free throws with 17 seconds to go, and the Bucks' last chance
ended when Mason missed a layup and Delonte West made two free
throws for Boston with 9 seconds remaining.

"Everybody knows Ricky Davis can be a starter on any team in
the NBA," Mason said. "When both he and Pierce get it going, they
are tough to beat."

Mason didn't get any help from Redd, who missed his first game
with tendinitis in his left Achilles. Antoine Walker sat out his
third straight game for Boston with a bruised left knee.

Milwaukee took its last lead with 6:09 left in the game when
Mason's jumper made it 85-83. Then Pierce started a 9-0 run with a
field goal that tied the game.

Davis followed with a layup that gave Boston the lead for good
then stole the ball and fed Mark Blount for an alley-oop dunk.
Pierce ended the surge with a 3-pointer for a 92-85 lead with 4:01
to go.

Mason went 2-for-14 from the field in the first three quarters
before heating up in the fourth. Dan Gadzuric had 17 points and 14
rebounds and Joe Smith scored 16 points. But Gadzuric and Smith
were scoreless in the fourth quarter.

"I just wanted to rest them for the stretch run," Milwaukee
coach Terry Porter said.

Milwaukee went ahead in the third quarter, turning a 47-47
halftime tie into a 65-54 lead with an 18-7 run. But Boston came
back and trailed 73-70 going into the fourth quarter.

Smith had 10 and Gadzuric added eight of the Bucks' 26 points in
the third quarter, while Pierce had 11 of the Celtics' 23.

Game notes
Walker may return in Saturday's game at New Jersey. ... The
last time the Bucks lost at least 10 straight road games was when
they ended the 2001-02 season with an 11-game slide. ... Milwaukee
hit 45.2 percent of its shots. On Sunday, the Bucks broke an
18-game streak in which it shot under 50 percent.