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Celtics erase 18-point, second-quarter deficit

12/29/2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- For a team that missed 18 of its first 21 shots and trailed by 18 points in the second quarter, the Boston Celtics had a lot of happy faces in their dressing room after the game.

Antoine Walker hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 32.5 seconds left
in overtime, and Paul Pierce scored 14 of his 35 in the fourth
quarter before fouling out as the Celtics beat the Los Angeles
Clippers 105-103 on Saturday for their fourth straight OT victory.

"This is a good win for us. I'm drained after this one. It was a game we definitely needed," said Pierce, whose 13 games with 30 or more points leads the league.

"That just shows the character of this ballclub. The veterans
are really stepping up, and you've got to be proud of the way we
kept on fighting back. That seems to be the story of this team. It
always seems like we're finding ways to win."

Trailing 35-17 early in the second quarter, Boston closed to 40-39 with 2:19 left in the half as Pierce capped a 22-5 run with a pair of 3-pointers. The Celtics didn't take their first lead until Eric Strickland's 12-footer in the lane with 10:37 left in the third.

"We knew we were getting good shots, but they just weren't falling," Pierce said. "So we told ourselves to be patient because the shots are going to fall. You can't be frustrated if you're getting good looks."

Walker had 29 points to help the Celtics win for the 13th time
in 17 games, and fourth straight over the Clippers. Los Angeles has
lost three straight after winning 10 of 13.

Elton Brand got four of his 24 points on free throws in the
extra period for the Clippers, but missed his last two from the
line with 14 seconds left in a failed attempt to tie the score.
Brand had 19 rebounds and Michael Olowokandi had a season-high 20 boards.

Lamar Odom missed his second straight game because of a sprained
right wrist. The Clippers are 5-5 when he's out of the lineup.

"It's definitely deflating and disheartening," Brand said. "We were up 18, then up four in overtime, but they're a good team and we knew they wouldn't fold. Paul Pierce came alive and hit some big shots."

Pierce fouled out with 3:02 remaining in the overtime. Brand
sank both free throws and Quentin Richardson added a 3-pointer for
a 100-96 lead.

But Eric Williams responded with a 3-pointer and Walker followed
with another 3 from the top of the key to put Boston ahead to stay
at 102-100.

"Games like that you're not supposed to lose. That's why it's important that you keep playing at the same tempo -- especially after starting off the way we did," Olowokandi said. "But we let them get back in the game."

Playing in front of their third straight sellout crowd and
seventh this season, the Clippers fell behind 93-92 when Williams
intercepted Brand's intended pass to Richardson near midcourt and
converted it into a breakaway layup with 58 seconds left in the
fourth.

"Eric played huge," Walker said. "When Paul went out, he didn't lose confidence. Obviously, it's pretty difficult to lose Paul in a situation like that -- especially in a tight game. But Eric came in and made two huge plays. That's what we've been doing all season, getting contributions from different guys in different situations."

Walker missed a game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation,
leaving the score at 93-all.

Game notes
Pierce and Walker -- the NBA's second-highest scoring duo
behind Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers in each of the last two seasons -- shot a combined 3-for-17 during the first 21 minutes against the league's second-best field goal defense. ... Clippers guard Eric Piatkowski, who missed 11 of the previous 12 games because of a strained right hip flexor, had three points in eight minutes. ... Boston's nine points in the first quarter matched the lowest total by a Clippers opponent in any quarter this season. ... Walker, who had a triple-double the last time he faced the Clippers in Los Angeles, missed all six shots during his first 13 minutes on the floor and finished 10-for-28. ... Only once in Boston's last 100 games has someone other than Walker or Pierce been the team's leading scorer. Walter McCarty had 27 points last April 15 in a 95-88 victory over New Jersey at FleetCenter.