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The Boston Celtics were looking to start the second half of the season the way they started the first, but found themselves in yet another barn burner on Tuesday night in Sacramento. A timely three-point basket by Paul Pierce and clutch free throw shooting allowed the C’s to edge the Kings 95-92.
In a game in which the Celtics bench scored 44 points, Paul Pierce connected on a three-pointer with 1:39 remaining to give his team an 89-87 advantage. On the Celtic’s next possession, Kevin Garnett was blocked at the rim by King’s center Jason Thompson. Thompson was able to get to the stripe on the ensuing Sacramento possession, but couldn’t connect on either of his free throws. The Kings were a fatal 0/6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Clutch free throw shooting by veterans Ray Allen and Paul Pierce allowed Boston protect its lead and escape with the victory.
The Celtics got an exceptional performance from their bench, which was struggling going into the All-Star break. Marquis Daniels provided a spark in the first half finishing with seven points and six rebounds. Eddie House nailed four three-pointers, and Rasheed Wallace tied Paul Pierce with a team-high 17 points. Glen Davis snatched eight boards in a workman-like effort.
The Celtics starters struggled in combining for just 51 points. Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins combined for just ten points, while Allen and Pierce each shot 33% from the field.
Kevin Garnett had another quiet night in finishing with nine points. The veteran power forward still does not appear to be 100-percent. There is a slight hitch in his step, and his inability to move laterally is evident, especially on defense. Hopefully the big man can hold up in back-to-back games later in the week.
The win improves the Celtics record to 33-18, and they remain 4.5 games in front of the Toronto Raptors atop the Atlantic Division. The team heads to Los Angeles Thursday to take on the red-hot Lakers, and then face a formidable Portland Trailblazers squad on Friday night.