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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reports Of Paul Pierce's Demise Were Quite Premature As He Drops 40 On Cleveland

If it wasn't for one of the greatest games of Paul Pierce's soon-to-be NBA Hall of Fame career (statistically speaking at least), the Celtics very well could have lost to the Cavaliers. Instead after 40 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block from The Truth, the C's (13-12, 9-4 home) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 103-91 win over Cleveland (5-22, 2-14 away) tonight at TD Garden.

Boston led from start to finish and seemed to be cruising to a rare blowout when somehow they let up on Cleveland since the C's were up 20 (80-60). The Cavaliers hit them with a 20-2 run to make it pretty scary. This was coming from a team that might be the worst in the NBA (the Raptors are riding a four-game win streak) and didn't have Anderson Varejao. There is no excuse for Boston playing a back-to-back since Cleveland was in the same miserable boat.

He has obviously played in a million bigger games in terms of stakes but it's hard to figure out how Pierce could have cobbled together better numbers: 13 of 16 from the field, six of seven on 3-pointers and eight of eight on free throws. Rajon Rondo added 20 points and eight assists, Jason Terry scored 15 and Kevin Garnett notched 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 22 points, rookie Tyler Zeller scored a career-high 20 points, another rookie Dion Waiters had 13 points while Tristan Thompson (11 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) and Alonzo Gee both put up 11 points.

Along with Pierce's special output, you should frame some of these other amazing numbers by the Celts: they shot 59.7% to 40.9% for the Cavaliers; they made four more 3-pointers (9-5), six more free throws (20-14), handed out seven more assists (23-16), had two more steals (9-7), five more blocks (7-2) and 12 more points in the paint (18-6).

For the fourth time in a month and a half, Boston will meet Milwaukee (13-11, 2nd in Central Division) on Friday (7:30 p.m., CSN) at the Garden. The Bucks are 2-1 so far against the Celtics with two more contests remaining (including Friday). Most recently they beat Boston 91-88 on December 1 in Milwaukee.

UPDATE 12/21: Kris Joseph was recalled from Maine since Chris Wilcox (thumb) and Leandro Barbosa (personal matter) are both out tonight vs. Milwaukee.

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