MILWAUKEE – Paul Pierce scored 34 points, 16 in the third quarter, as the Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Saturday night.

Milwaukee blew a 14-point halftime lead – something that’s becoming a habit for the Bucks lately. In the past week, Milwaukee blew second-half leads in two separate games against Indiana.

The Bucks held a 60-46 halftime lead Saturday, but the Celtics rallied in the third quarter to tie the game at 79 on a layup by forward Ryan Gomes.

Bucks guard Mo Williams then was sent tumbling to the ground after an apparent hard foul by Sebastien Telfair, but Williams was called for traveling. Pierce scored on a drive on the Celtics’ next possession, putting the Celtics ahead 81-79 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

After Milwaukee’s Michael Redd hit one of two free throws, Delonte West hit a long jump shot at the buzzer to take an 83-80 lead at the end of the quarter.

Milwaukee’s defense continued to break down in the fourth quarter as the Celtics pulled away.

Wally Szczerbiak added 21 for Boston, and Gomes scored 15.

The Bucks had snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday, but lost out on their chance at their first two-game winning streak of the season and have now lost four of their last five.

Redd led Milwaukee with 24 points and Andrew Bogut added 18.

Boston was coming off two straight losses, including a blowout at home by the New York Knicks on Friday night.

Milwaukee came into Saturday’s game missing two starting forwards: Bobby Simmons, who has a heel injury, and Charlie Villanueva, who remains sidelined with a torn left elbow ligament.

Pistons 115, Wizards 111

WASHINGTON – Chauncey Billups scored 29 points and the Detroit Pistons set all sorts of season highs, beating the Washington Wizards to stretch their winning streak to six games.

Five Pistons scored in double figures, including Tayshaun Prince with 21, and Richard Hamilton with 18. Billups went 18-for-19 on free throws (both career highs), scoring Detroit’s final nine points at the line.

Gilbert Arenas recovered from his worst game of the season with 28 points and 10 assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the Wizards from losing their fourth game in a row to fall to 4-9.

Cavaliers 108, 76ers 95

CLEVELAND – LeBron James had 25 points and 11 assists, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored a season-high 18 for the Cavaliers.

Ilgauskas added 15 rebounds. He tied a team record with 12 offensive boards for Cleveland, which won its sixth straight at home.

Allen Iverson scored 31 points on just 10-of-28 shooting to lead Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala added 17 and Willie Green 13 for the Sixers.

Heat 102, Bobcats 93

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dwyane Wade had 35 points and 12 assists to help the Heat snap a three-game losing streak.

Alonzo Mourning, back in the city where he began his NBA career, added 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting as Miami, coming in as the lowest-scoring team in the NBA, shot a season-high 55 percent.

Magic 98, Hawks 79

ORLANDO, Fla. – Carlos Arroyo scored 15 points, Dwight Howard had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and the Magic coasted to the victory.

Orlando, which has won three straight and seven of its last eight, put six players in double figures. Hedo Turkoglu had 14 points, while Keith Bogans and Keyon Dooling had 13 apiece. Jameer Nelson finished with 11.

Bulls 106, Knicks 95

NEW YORK – Luol Deng scored 24 points, and Chicago stopped a six-game losing streak.

In a game that featured two ejections and another benching of Stephon Marbury, Deng scored 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the first half to give the Bulls a 56-34 lead.

Timberwolves 104, Clippers 96

MINNEAPOLIS – Rookie Randy Foye scored 14 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, rallying the Timberwolves to the win.

Kevin Garnett added 25 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which trailed by as many as 16 in the third quarter thanks to a torrid start from former teammate Sam Cassell.

Cassell scored 28 points in the first 36 minutes, but managed just three points and was overwhelmed by Foye in the final period.

Mavericks 85, Hornets 73

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and nine rebounds, and the Mavericks stretched their winning streak to nine games.

Josh Howard added 15 points and seven rebounds, and Erick Dampier had 11 points for the Mavericks, who have won 18 straight over the Hornets dating to November 1999, when the franchise was in Charlotte.

Rockets 85, Grizzlies 76

HOUSTON – Yao Ming scored 28 points, and Tracy McGrady matched a career high with 13 assists for the Rockets.

McGrady also had 19 points. Yao and Chuck Hayes each grabbed eight rebounds.

for Houston, which avoided its recent habit of losing fourth-quarter leads to win for the fourth time in five games.

Hakim Warrick scored 12 and Rudy Gay and Chucky Atkins added 11 points apiece for the Grizzlies, who fell to 0-7 on the road.


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