7:30 PM ET, February 15, 2003
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
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.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||31-80 (.388)||35-77 (.455)|
|3PM-3PA||8-26 (.308)||5-20 (.250)|
|FTM-FTA||22-30 (.733)||9-14 (.643)|
|Fast Break Points||4||4|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||25 (3/0)|