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Celtics win for eighth time in nine games

12/15/2001

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said he was
surprised to see that Paul Pierce had scored 38 points.

"He's always surprised," said Pierce, who added 12 rebounds,
five assists and four steals in leading the Celtics to their eighth
win in nine games -- 107-101 over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
"He's so focused on the defensive end, he doesn't focus on the
offense."

Pierce had 17 fourth-quarter points for the Celtics, who used a
15-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a 93-86 lead. Pierce had
eight points in the run and Joe Johnson, who finished with 13
points, had five.

"I think he's playing terrific team defense and he's rebounding
tremendously," O'Brien said of Pierce. "This is a well-rounded
player."

The Celtics only loss in the stretch was to the Bulls, 87-84, on
Dec. 8. In that game, Pierce shot 4-for-15 and was held to 12
points.

"Pierce is a terrific, terrific talent and just got it going,"
said Bulls head coach Tim Floyd, whose team dropped to 0-12 on the
road. "He hit some difficult shots and continues to find the
net."

The Celtics have won eight of nine for the first time since
March 31-April 17, 1995. The Celtics 13-7 start is their best since
1991-1992, Larry Bird's last season as a player.

The Bulls played the Celtics tight, leading by as many as eight,
86-78, with 8:42 left in the the fourth quarter. One key was Marcus
Fizer, whose physical defense kept Antoine Walker, the Celtics'
second-leading scorer, scoreless for more than 24 minutes.

"This was a great victory for us to pull out after we really
struggled in the second and third quarters," O'Brien said. "It
was a good, tough-minded win."

Walker had 20 points and eight assists and Tony Battie had 10
points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, his first double-double of
the season.

The Bulls were led by Ron Mercer, who scored 23 points against
his old team. Greg Anthony had 19 points and 11 assists. Fizer
finished with 18 points.

The Celtics, behind 5-for-5 shooting and 12 points from Walker,
hit their first nine shots from the field to open up an early 22-10
lead. The Bulls shut down the Celtics the rest of the half,
pressing them and holding Walker scoreless to cut the deficit to
53-50 at halftime.

Game notes
Kenny Anderson was ejected at the 6:51 mark in the third
quarter after picking up his fourth foul. ... Walker entered the
game as the league leader in minutes played, averaging 43.5 per
game. ... Bulls rookie Tyson Chandler, selected second in the 2001
NBA draft, entered the game with 2:42 left in the first quarter and
promptly scored on a baseline dunk and blocked a shot on the
defensive end. ... Bulls forward Charles Oakley, one of only three
Bulls over the age of 25, responded to a fan's barb of "Oakley,
you're too old," with "Never too old."