Monta Ellis scored 27 points, including a pair of baskets to break a tie in overtime to lead the Bucks over the Celtics, 99-94, Friday night at TD Garden. Paul Pierce drilled a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to cap a furious comeback in the final 42.2 seconds and force overtime. Two days after scoring 40 against the Cavaliers, Pierce had a game-high 35 points in 44 minutes to lead the Celtics.
One game after shooting 60 percent from the field, the Celtics shot just 38.3 percent, including Jason Terry, who was 1-for-15 from the fioor. Kevin Garnett wasn't much better, hitting just 6-of-22 shots. The Celtics were also dominated on the glass and in second-chance points, and lost to the Bucks for the third time in four tries this season. The Celtics fall back to .500 at 13-13 on the season, with a Christmas date with the Nets up next in Brooklyn. The Bucks improve to 14-11.
Pierce picked up where he left off on Wednesday, drilling a 3-pointer three minutes into the game for Boston's first points of the night. Pierce finished the first quarter with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, leading the Celtics to a 25-17 lead after one. The Celtics scored the final eight points of the quarter to take the eight-point lead.
The Celtics maintained their comfortable lead for most of the second quarter, building the advatage up to as many as 10 points, until Milwaukee closed the quarter on a 5-0 run to cut Boston's lead to 46-43 at the half.
Milwaukee would not go away in the third, thanks in large part to their ability to get the Celtics into foul trouble. Jared Sullinger picked up his fourth and fifth fouls while Jason Collins, getting his second straight start, was saddled with his fourth. The Bucks managed to tie the game three times but could not take lead. With the game tied, 60-60, the Celtics went on a 10-2 run to take a 70-62 lead into the fourth.
But the Bucks opened the fourth with a 12-2 run, capped by a Brandon Jennings baseline three that gave them their first lead since 11-10 midway through the first quarter. The Celtics went ice cold, missing 11 of their first 13 shots to open the quarter.
With Milwaukee leading 83-78, Rajon Rondo fought for a loose ball offensive rebound and found Pierce, who drilled a three with 2:48 left to make it a two-point game. The Celtics had a chance to tie but Pierce missed a jumper that led to a Monta Ellis floater. Then, Rondo tried to throw the ball off Jennings to force a turnover. Instead, Jennings controlled the ball and found Larry Sanders for a thunderous alley-oop jam over Garnett to put the Bucks up, 87-81, with under a minute left.
The Bucks led 88-81 on another free throw with 42.2 seconds left. But then the Celtics defense took over. After Brandon Jennings missed a pair of free throws, Rondo found Jeff Green off an inbounds pass for an alley-oop jam with 28 seconds left that cut Milwaukee's lead to 88-85. And after Terry missed a pull-up three, Jeff Green tipped the loose ball out to Pierce, who drained his third three of the night with 2.5 seconds left to force overtime.
Monta Ellis hit a pair of baskets to break a 90-90 deadlock before Pierce and Garnett came back to tie it, with Garnett's shot with 36.1 seconds left in overtime tying the game, 94-94. Ellis hit one of two free throws with 27.5 left in overtime to put the Bucks ahead, 95-94. Ellis grabbed the loose ball rebound and the Bucks got back to the free throw line to build a 97-94 lead.
The Celtics are off until Christmas day when they play the Brooklyn Nets in a noontime game at Barclays Center. It will be their first meeting since the shoving match between Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries on Nov. 28 that resulted in Rondo's two-game suspension. The game also kicks off a four-game road trip, that finishes with three on the West Coast against the Clippers, Warriors and Kings. The Celtics don't play at home again until Jan. 2 against Memphis, the tentative return for Avery Bradley for the first time this season.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics .