Walker, Pierce help Celtics win fourth straight game


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The end of Antoine Walker's 3-point slump
opened things up for Paul Pierce.

Walker made nine 3-pointers and scored 31 points and Pierce had
a big fourth quarter as the Boston Celtics won their fourth
straight game Saturday night, 105-99 over the Minnesota

"Antoine got them there,'' Minnesota's Kevin Garnett said.
"And Paul finished it off.''

Walker, who was 9-for-39 on 3-pointers coming into the game,
shot 9-of-13 to help Boston overcome Pierce's struggles through the
first three quarters. Pierce, averaging 26 points, scored just
eight on 3-of-13 shooting through three quarters.

"The 3s hadn't been falling,'' Walker said. "Finally I got it
going tonight. The guys did a great job finding me.''

Walker keyed a 14-2 run to close the third quarter, making three
3s -- the last of which banked in with 0.3 seconds left to give
Boston a 77-76 lead. Boston made the run with the Wolves' top two
perimeter defenders, Garnett and Kendall Gill, resting on the

Then Pierce took over, scoring 12 in the fourth. His 3-pointer
with 3:30 remaining put the Celtics up 96-92, and he hit two free
throws and a fadeaway jumper to make it 100-92.

"The fourth quarter is one of my strong points,'' Pierce said.
"I thrive off the pressure.''

Pierce missed his first career triple-double by one rebound,
finishing with 20 points and a career-high 10 assists.

Meanwhile, the Wolves went more than four minutes down the
stretch without a field goal. They cut the lead to 100-96 on Gill's
free throws and had the ball, but Walker deflected a pass and
Shammond Williams recovered the loose ball and dunked to put the
game away.

Williams scored a season-high 18 points.

For the game, the Celtics hit 14 3s -- the most in the NBA this

"We knew they live and die by the 3,'' Garnett said. "At the
end of the third quarter, they really turned the momentum and we
couldn't regain it. We put ourselves in a bind.''

Garnett scored 24 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh
double-double in as many games.

Troy Hudson and Rasho Nesterovic added 22 points each for
Minnesota, which lost for the first time in five home games.

Minnesota played without guard Wally Szczerbiak because of
soreness in his left knee. Szczerbiak is day-to-day.

Wolves coach Flip Saunders said a metal support Szczerbiak wore
in his left shoe Thursday against Milwaukee caused him to run
awkwardly and aggravate the knee. The support was needed to protect
a foot injury that caused him to miss the season's first five

"Without Wally, we're not conducive to playing perimeter
teams,'' Saunders said. "And they're one of the top perimeter

Nesterovic scored 14 points in the first half as the Wolves
built a 57-48 lead at the break. Nesterovic's previous season-high
was 12 points.

Game notes
Nesterovic moved into third place on the Wolves list with
267 career blocks, passing Felton Spencer. Garnett (933) and
Christian Laettner (299) are the top two. ... The Wolves play 11 of
their next 15 games on the road. ... Boston scored 100 points or
more in five of seven preseason games, but had cleared 100 just
once in five regular season games entering Saturday. ... Boston
backup point guard J.R. Bremer was in the Wolves minicamp this
summer. ... Garnett's 28-point, 24-rebound performance on Thursday
was the ninth 20-20 performance of his career, but the Wolves won
only five of those games and won only one by more than four points.