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Paul Pierce picked a great time to catch fire. The Celtic’s small forward scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, to help his team cruise past the Bucks 105-90 on Saturday night in Milwaukee.
The Celtics won their 50th game of the season without Kevin Garnett, who was given the night off by Doc Rivers. Boston has now won at least 50 games for the third consecutive season.
Rajon Rondo, presented with the Auerbach Award (given to a Celtics player who best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic through performance on the court and off) before the game, put up a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Ray Allen scored 21 points, while Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 12 points apiece.
The Celtics certainly played well on the offensive end scoring over 100 points, but it was the defensive effort down the stretch that sealed the victory. Boston held Milwaukee to 37.9 % shooting from the field, and held a 42-38 advantage on the boards.
The game was tight throughout. Neither team was able to take a commanding lead, as the Celtics led 68-63 heading into the fourth quarter. In the end, it was the Celtics who stepped up their defense in the second half, using a combination of steals and blocks to create fast break points and push the lead to double-digits.
Even without KG, the game did not lack intensity. Things got chippy late, and it was the Celtics who were able to keep their composure. The C’s looked like a team who had been there before, while the young Bucks imploded.
It all started with a little over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Tim Thomas failed to get a whistle driving to the basket. Thomas felt he was hit on the head by Glen Davis, and took his frustration out by throwing Davis to the floor on the other end. Davis took exception to the hard foul and immediately stood up, bumped into Thomas, and got into his face. Thomas received a flagrant foul while Davis was hit with a technical.
On the Celtic’s next offensive possession, Paul Pierce got tangled up with Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse was called for a foul, sending Bucks coach Scott Skyles into an enraged frenzy. Skyles was ejected after a lot of screaming and hand gestures directed at the officiating crew. His outburst and subsequent ejection resulted in a double technical, and the Celtics hit their final twelve free throws, putting the game out of reach.