MILWAUKEE (AP) — Paul Pierce scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and the Boston Celtics beat Milwaukee 105-90 on Saturday night without Kevin Garnett, pushing the Bucks around in the process.
After a rough-and-tumble game in Milwaukee last month, this one featured more pushing and shoving late and could be a sign of things to come in a first-round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Bucks coach Scott Skiles was ejected, Celtics forward Glen Davis squared off with Kurt Thomas, and Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings was inadvertently kicked between the legs in the fourth quarter.
John Salmons overcame his stomach flu to score 21 points for the Bucks, and Jennings added 19. But Milwaukee still has never won four straight games without Andrew Bogut — sidelined by hand, wrist and elbow injuries — since drafting him No. 1 overall in 2005.
It was just the third win in the last eight for the Celtics. Boston (50-30) reached 50 wins for the third straight season and is chasing Atlanta for the third seed. The Bucks will finish either fifth or sixth even without Bogut.
If the Celtics want to make a title run, they’ll need everyone to step and showed the Bucks they’re ready to tangle in the process as Garnett rested to prepare.
Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 10 assists, Ray Allen scored 21 points, Rasheed Wallace and Davis finished with 12 each.
The two teams have certainly irritated each other in the previous two matchups, and Milwaukee (45-35) lost its composure down the stretch.
Pierce hit three straight baskets for Boston to give the Celtics an 88-81 lead with 3:32 to play before things turned sour.
First, Thomas grabbed two offensive rebounds, but felt he was fouled by Davis when he tried to drive to the basket and was hit on the head, complaining to the referees on the way back down.
He got his revenge quickly, throwing Davis to the floor on the other end with 2:35 left and drawing a flagrant foul. Davis received a technical when he jumped up and bumped Thomas immediately, reminiscent of the teams’ March 9 meeting in Milwaukee when Davis squared off with the much smaller Jennings.
The Bucks won that one 86-84 after Bogut scored 25 points.
Without Bogut, no one was able to fill the void.
On the next possession, Pierce and Jerry Stackhouse got tangled up. Stackhouse drew a foul while holding Pierce on the court. The call enraged Skiles, who pointed at the officiating crew and said something that drew a double technical and an ejection as Boston sealed the win by hitting all 12 free throws after Thomas’ flagrant foul.
After shooting 36 percent in the first half, Boston went 12 of 19 in the third quarter to take a 68-63 lead into the fourth. Milwaukee never got within a basket, closing to 76-72 before fading down the stretch.
Notes: Bogut was at the Bradley Center before the game, but left before the locker rooms opened and did not speak to reporters about the injury. … Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo was at the game hours after he pitched in Milwaukee’s 7-1 loss to St. Louis. … Packers linebacker Nick Barnett sat courtside.