Pierce Delivers Victory, Celebrates Happy Birthday

After resting the starters last night in Philadelphia, Doc let them play tonight. The only inactives (excluding Perk) were Delonte West, Shaquille O'Neal, and Glen Davis, all nursing minor injuries. As it turned out, the C's needed their A-Team tonight, especially birthday boy Paul Pierce, who hit a game winning jumper with less than ten seconds left.

Ray Allen led the way for Boston, scoring 24 points, while pulling down five boards. Pierce poured in 17 of his own, and rookie Luke Harangody contributed with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He also had the highest +/- with a +10 in that category. New York newcomer, Amare Stoudemire scored 30 of his own on 9-13 shooting from the field and 12-15 from the line. Ex-Celtic Bill Walker scored 11 as well, hitting three of his six attempts from downtown.

After Boston scored the first seven points of the contest, the Knicks battled back and led after the first twelve minutes, 26-25. The Celtics' "Big Three" (Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett) scored 17 of those points, giving fans a little taste of what they love.

The Knicks continued to make shots and built up a ten point lead after Danilo Gallinari hit a pair of free throws with 4:39 left in the half. At that same time, KG was ejected for arguing with refs. He had been giving Zach Zarba a constant stream of complaints since the start of the game and finally pushed the zebra over the edge. However, just like New York did, the C's made a counter run to cut the halftime deficit to just five points.

Again the Knicks drove their lead back up to ten early in the second frame. This time, Harangody scored 11 points in the third quarter to keep Boston in the game. Ex-Bobcat Raymond Felton nailed a bomb a few feet behind the three-point line to give the Knickerbockers another five-point lead going into the final period.

The two teams continued to battle neck-in-neck into the final minutes. With many ties and lead changes, the game was as exciting as a pre-season game could be. Most of the starters played until the very end. With the game tied 101-101 and 27 seconds left in the game, Pierce held the ball at the top of the key. He dribbled up and backed down Anthony Randolph, then pulled up and hit a jumper in his face with just eight seconds left.

(Talk about a nice birthday present for himself, right?)

After inbounding the ball, rookie Andy Rautins caught and immediately fired up a trey, rather than waiting for a good shot with the time the Knicks had. Rajon Rondo blocked the shot, Pierce recovered, and was fouled. He proceeded to hit one of two shots at the line. New York then made another late-game blunder. They inbounded the ball to Ronny Turiaf and he was fouled by Marquis Daniels. Turiaf missed both free throws and the C's prevailed with a 104-101 victory.