Pierce and Walker combine for 61 to drop Clippers


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Boston Celtics turn to Paul Pierce and
Antoine Walker when the game is on the line.

Pierce scored 35 points and Walker added 26 Saturday night as
the Celtics snuffed out a late rally by the Los Angeles Clippers
for a 92-84 victory.

It was the sixth time this season that the All-Stars have
combined for 60 or more points, and the Celtics have won all six.

"We've been in that position a lot of times, and that's the
luxury of this team,'' Walker said. "We grind it out on the
defensive end, and me and Paul have unbelievable confidence that we
can make shots down the stretch.''

It was the fourth straight win for the Celtics, following a
season-worst four-game losing streak, and trimmed New Jersey's lead
in the Atlantic Division to five games.

"We're peaking at the right time,'' Walker said. "We stumbled
a little bit before the All-Star break and lost four in a row, but
then we were able to get one right before the break. We've just got
to take care of our own business, and the only way you can do that
is with a winning streak.''

Elton Brand scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and
Corey Maggette added 20, but it wasn't enough to help the Clippers
avoid their sixth straight loss to Boston and 15th in their last 19
home games against them dating to 1984-85 -- their first season in
Los Angeles.

The Clippers have lost six of seven and 18 of their last 24
overall. It was the 17th time this season that they blew a lead in
the fourth quarter and lost.

"We're a great team in the fourth quarter,'' said Pierce,
playing with a sprained right wrist after taking a hard spill on
Tuesday night against Portland. "When we're down, I think we play
better. The guys come up with big plays and big stops when we need
them. We don't get down on ourselves. We play with the confidence
that we're always going to be in the game.''

The frustration got to coach Alvin Gentry, who was ejected by
referee Scott Foster with 41.7 seconds left after the Celtics put
the game away with a 14-0 run. Gentry had to be restrained by
assistant coach Dennis Johnson on his way off the court.

"When the game was on the line, we turned it over four times.
You can't do that in a close game and expect to win,'' Gentry said
after watching his team commit 21 turnovers. "We've just got to
execute and make good plays and good decisions down the stretch.''

After two free throws by Cherokee Parks gave the Clippers an
82-78 edge with 2:35 to play, the Celtics took over with the help
of three turnovers by the Clippers, who finished with 21.

J.R. Bremer and Pierce each sank two free throws and Eric
Williams followed with a driving layup. Walker converted a
three-point play and the Celtics tacked on six more free throws.
The run included steals by Pierce and Walter McCarty against point
guard Andre Miller.

"With two minutes left, we were up by four. You've got to pull
that one out,'' Brand said. "They're a team that's been through
the war, so they found a way to win.''

Lamar Odom, who picked up three fouls in his first six minutes
on the court and sat out the final 10 1/2 minutes of the second
quarter, missed his first seven shots before hitting a 20-footer to
give the Clippers a 71-70 lead with 7:52 left in the game.

The Celtics never led by more than seven points. Pierce's
15-footer gave them a 64-57 lead before Cherokee Parks, playing a
season-high 32 minutes for the Clippers, hit a short turnaround
jumper and an 18-footer with two seconds left in the quarter to
narrow the gap to 66-65.

Game notes
The Clippers' fifth sellout crowd of the season roared with
delight when Walker shot an airball on a free throw with 6:36 left
in the third quarter and Boston leading by three. But 45 seconds
later, he sank a 27-footer from above the key for one of his four
3-pointers. ... The Clippers are 6-16 with Odom in the lineup since
he was activated on Dec. 28. He was sidelined for the final 45
games of last season and the first 29 this season because of wrist
and ankle injuries. ... Boston's Tony Battie sat out his second
game because of stomach flu and an upper respiratory infection,
which resulted in a one-night hospital stay in Portland.