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Pierce buzzer-beater completes C's rally past Nets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Paul Pierce was confident as the seconds ticked down and ball was in his hands for the final shot.

Pierce hit the buzzer-beater Saturday night and the Boston Celtics rallied from an early 20-point deficit to beat the New Jersey Nets 92-90 and snap a five-game losing streak.

"I knew I was going to be able to get it off," Pierce said. "I had a smaller guy in Jason Kidd on me. I just got to my sweet spot, elevated and knocked down the shot."

Kidd did all that he could to prevent the shot, short of fouling Pierce.

"I tried to get my hand in his vision," Kidd said. "When I turned around, the shot was right on line. It was a matter of whether it was going in or not. He made the shot under stress and you have to tip your hat to him."

From the bench, Celtics coach Doc Rivers could see Pierce lining up the winner.

"He was looking at the clock the entire time," Rivers said. "We knew we could get him into a 1-on-1 situation. It just came down to a great player making a great shot."

Al Jefferson had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who trailed 22-2 in the first quarter. Pierce added 17 points and Delonte West 16.

Nenad Krstic led the Nets with 20 points, and Vince Carter had 19 and 11 rebounds. The Nets have lost three straight and nine of their last 11.

With Boston leading 90-88, Carter pulled the Nets even on a jumper with 43.7 seconds remaining. On the Celtics' ensuing possession, Sebastian Telfair missed a layup and Jason Kidd came down with the rebound.

Eddie House missed a 3-pointer with 12.3 seconds left, setting the stage for Pierce's shot as time expired.

The Nets, shaking off Thursday's 161-157 double-overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns, took charge right from the start, scoring the first 18 points as the Celtics missed their first 12 shots from the field. Boston finally scored 8 minutes into the game when Ryan Gomes hit a jumper.

The Celtics came charging back and took their first lead at 38-37 on West's 3-pointer with 3:54 left in the second period.

The Nets, confident after a strong start, were shaken.

"Starting 22-2 sends a strong message," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You can't let down. You have to do everything in your power to stay consistent in doing what you did to get the lead."

The Nets led 48-45 at halftime, and there were eight lead changes and four ties in the third quarter until New Jersey closed the period with an 11-3 run to take a 48-45 lead.

Marcus Williams threw passes to set up the last three New Jersey baskets, including alley-oop dunks by Richard Jefferson and Hassan Adams.

The Nets threatened to pull away again as they opened a 79-71 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Celtics, led by Al Jefferson and Tony Allen, hung in and rallied back for an 84-80 lead with 5:27 remaining. The game remained close, setting up Pierce's 22-foot, off-balance winner.

The Nets led 27-11 after one as the Celtics shot a paltry 4-for-20.

Game notes
The Suns-Nets double-overtime game from Thursday night will be replayed Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBATV. ... The Nets have two games left on a six-game homestand -- against Memphis on Monday, and Milwaukee on Wednesday. ... The Celtics ended a four-game losing streak against the Nets. ... Wally Szczerbiak, the Celtics' second-leading scorer, missed a fourth-straight game with a left ankle sprain. ... New Jersey's Jason Collins was called for a flagrant foul against West late in the second quarter. ... The Nets were whistled for four technical fouls for defensive 3-second violations.