<
>

Pierce's last-second layup lifts Celtics to win

BOSTON (AP) -- At this point, the Boston Celtics will take wins
any way they can get them.

Paul Pierce made a layup with 0.3 seconds left to give the
struggling Celtics a 90-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on
Friday night.

"This was a much-needed one," Pierce said. "Regardless of how
we got it. We haven't played well the last five games."

Pierce took the inbounds pass with 4 seconds left and drove down
the left side of the lane for a layup. He finished with 27 points.

"The play was drawn up good," said Boston's Ricky Davis, who
finished with 25 points. "We got exactly what we wanted. We got
the stop we needed at the end and then executed a great play."

The Celtics had lost two straight -- including a road loss on
Wednesday that gave the Atlanta Hawks their first win of the season
-- and four of five. The Bobcats fell to 1-6 on the road and 4-9
overall.

"We had some defensive lapses early in the game and then we
found a way to get back into the game," Charlotte's Emeka Okafor
said. "Then we fell apart at the end. We played hard, but I'm not
big on taking positives from losses like this."

Raef LaFrentz finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for the
Celtics.

Gerald Wallace and Brevin Knight each had 17 points for
Charlotte. Okafor added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Boston led 75-65 early in the fourth quarter, but Charlotte
answered with a 10-0 run that tied the game with 7:21 left.

After the teams traded baskets, Kareem Rush knocked down a
3-pointer that gave the Bobcats an 80-77 lead. Pierce answered with
a three-point play and then stole the ball from Okafor and took it
the length of the court for a layup that put Boston back on top
82-80 with 4:17 left.

Okafor tied it at 82 before LaFrentz connected on a 3-pointer to
give the Celtics an 85-82 lead with 3:38 to go. Knight sliced
through the lane for a pair of driving layups and converted a steal
that put Charlotte back in front 88-85 with 1:18 remaining.

Pierce and Okafor each sank one of two free throws and Pierce
cut the deficit to 89-88 with a drive with 29 seconds left.

"This was an important win for us," Celtics coach Doc Rivers
said. "In our standards, this was like a throwback game
defensively. So, it was what we needed. I think this team needed
this win."

Game notes
The Celtics were without point guard Delonte West for the
second straight game because of a hip pointer. Rookie Orien Greene
started and Dan Dickau came off the bench. West hopes to play
Monday night against Orlando, though Rivers isn't sure. "It didn't
sound too promising for the next game," Rivers said. "Even though
Delonte said he was going to play." ... Celtics rookie Gerald
Green was activated before the game and was in uniform for the
first time this season, but did not see any action. ... Kendrick
Perkins started in place of Mark Blount for the Celtics. Blount,
who was healthy, did not play. ... Charlotte entered the game with
a league-leading 12.25 steals per game.