EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Paul Pierce hit a buzzer-beater Saturday night and the Boston Celtics rallied from an early 20-point deficit to beat the New Jersey Nets 92-90 and snap a five-game losing streak.

Al Jefferson had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who trailed 22-2 in the first quarter. Pierce added 17 points and Delonte West 16.

Nenad Krstic led the Nets with 20 points, and Vince Carter had 19 and 11 rebounds. The Nets have lost three straight and nine of their last 11.

With Boston leading 90-88, Carter pulled the Nets even on a jumper with 43.7 seconds remaining. On the Celtics’ ensuing possession, Sebastian Telfair missed a layup and Jason Kidd came down with the rebound.

Eddie House missed a 3-pointer with 12.3 seconds left, setting the stage for Pierce’s shot as time expired.

The Nets, shaking off Thursday’s 161-157 double-overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns, took charge right from the start, scoring the first 18 points as the Celtics missed their first 12 shots from the field. Boston finally scored 8 minutes into the game when Ryan Gomes hit a jumper.

The Celtics came charging back and took their first lead at 38-37 on West’s 3-pointer with 3:54 left in the second period.

The Nets led 48-45 at halftime, and there were eight lead changes and four ties in the third quarter until New Jersey closed the period with an 11-3 run to take a 48-45 lead.

Marcus Williams threw passes to set up the last three New Jersey baskets, including alley-oop dunks by Richard Jefferson and Hassan Adams.

The Nets threatened to pull away again as they opened a 79-71 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics, led by Al Jefferson and Tony Allen, hung in and rallied back for an 84-80 lead with 5:27 remaining. The game remained close, setting up Pierce’s 22-foot, off-balance winner.

Magic 86, 76ers 84

ORLANDO, Fla. – Winning with Allen Iverson was difficult enough. Now the Philadelphia 76ers are learning how tough it is to get a victory without their disgruntled star.

Dwight Howard scored 28 points and Grant Hill added 23 Saturday night, leading the Orlando Magic to an 86-84 victory that extended Philadelphia’s losing streak to seven games.

The 76ers played for the second straight night without Iverson, who was sent home before Friday night’s home loss against Washington and told he would not make the trip to Orlando, either.

Sixers president Ed Snider said the seven-time All-Star, who has clashed with coaches throughout his 11-year career, will be traded. How long it will take to move Iverson is anybody’s guess.

Knicks 115, Bucks 107

NEW YORK – Eddy Curry powered his way to a career-high 36 points, leading the New York Knicks to a 115-107 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

Overwhelming the smaller Milwaukee frontcourt, Curry surpassed the 20-point mark for his ninth straight game. He shot 17-of-24 from the floor and scored 14 points in the third quarter, when the Knicks opened a 17-point lead by outscoring the Bucks 36-22.

Curry also grabbed nine rebounds before leaving to chants of “Eddy!, Eddy!” in the closing seconds.

Jamal Crawford, starting for the injured Steve Francis, added 25 points for the Knicks, who lost point guard Stephon Marbury with an injury to his left arm midway during the third quarter. Besides Francis, New York was already without Channing Frye and Jared Jeffries, both expected starters, because of injuries.

Howver, the Knicks overcame all that to win for the third time in 11 home games, improving to 2-2 on a six-game homestand that could help determine if they can contend in the weak Atlantic Division.

Clippers 89, Grizzlies 82

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Elton Brand scored 26 points and had a strong defensive effort Saturday night to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 89-82 for their first road victory of the season.

The Clippers, the last NBA team without a road win, were 0-7 away from Staples Center.

The Grizzlies shot just 62 percent from the free-throw line and Brand limited Memphis leading-scorer Hakim Warrick to eight points – less than half of his 16.5-point season average.

Cavaliers 107, Pacers 75

CLEVELAND – LeBron James scored 24 of his 27 points in the first half and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-75 win over the flustered Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

James had seven rebounds, six assists and spent the entire fourth quarter relaxing on the bench. The Cavaliers built a 24-point lead in the first half and coasted to their most lopsided win this season. Donyell Marshall added a season-high 17 rebounds for the Cavs, who outboarded Indiana 57-34.

Rockets 114, Wizards 109

WASHINGTON – Yao Ming scored 23 of his season-high 38 points in the fourth quarter and the Houston Rockets ended the Washington Wizards’ winning streak at three games with a 114-109 victory Saturday night.

Tracy McGrady had 28 points for Houston before leaving the game in the fourth quarter clutching his back. Rafer Alston added 12 points for the Rockets in their fourth straight victory over Washington.

Gilbert Arenas shook off a ragged start to finish with 41 points for the Wizards, who were bidding for their first four-game streak since winning five straight from Feb. 4-12, 2006.

Antawn Jamison added 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Caron Butler 17 points and 10 rebounds for Washington.

Yao, who also had 11 rebounds, scored Houston’s first 12 points of the fourth quarter. His two free throws gave the Rockets a 92-91 lead after three foul shots by Jamison, who was fouled by Juwan Howard on a 3-point attempt. Yao finished 12-for-14 from the foul line.


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