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Mashburn's all-around effort has Boston in four-game skid

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Jamal Mashburn reached 30 points for the
second straight game, and this time the New Orleans Hornets didn't
let it go to waste.

Mashburn's outburst included a pair of tough jumpers down the
stretch as New Orleans beat Boston 103-96 Monday night to extend
the Celtics' losing streak to a season-high four games.

"I had to just be aggressive and let the guys follow me. I
can't wait on anybody,'' said Mashburn, who was averaging about 21
points coming in and will play in his first All-Star game this
weekend. "It's important for me to be the leader out there.''

In the last two minutes, Mashburn hit a long fade and a
turnaround jumper from the top of the key to give New Orleans a
97-88 lead.

Mashburn, who scored 39 points in a tough loss Saturday at
Washington, shot 12-of-19 against Boston, including four

David Wesley scored 18 points for New Orleans, which snapped a
two-game losing streak and beat Boston for the first time in three
meetings this season.

P.J. Brown added 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting and had 12
rebounds, while George Lynch, in a rare start, scored 11.

New Orleans (25-24) avoided falling below .500 for the first
time this season. The Hornets play Sacramento before heading into
the All-Star break.

"This was a must win -- a clutch win,'' Brown said. "We didn't
want to fall below .500 with a tough team coming in on Wednesday.
That would be more pressure. This was probably the biggest game of
the year up to this point.''

Paul Pierce led Boston with 27 points and was 9-of-11 from the
foul line, while Antoine Walker and rookie J.R. Bremer each added
20. Eric Williams scored 13 and Tony Battie grabbed 13 rebounds for
the Celtics.

With Pierce coming on strong in the second half, the Celtics
made several runs but could never gain the lead. With a tip-in, an
end-to-end drive and a 3-pointer, Pierce scored the last seven
points of a 12-2 run that pulled Boston to 69-68 with three minutes
left in the third period.

New Orleans came back with five straight points, all by Stacey
Augmon on a pair of driving layups and a free throw, to take a
74-68 lead into the fourth quarter.

Momentum shifted several times in the final period. Pierce hit a
3 to spark a 7-0 run that Bremer finished with a driving layup,
pulling Boston to 80-77.

New Orleans responded with a 7-0 run that included an
off-balance, backward bank shot by Robert Traylor and Mashburn's
fourth 3-pointer.

A 3-pointer by Walker got Boston to 99-95 with 27.5 seconds
left, but the Celtics were forced to foul and the Hornets made
their free throws while Boston missed several desperation shots.

Pierce and Boston coach Jim O'Brien said a weak first half
doomed the Celtics.

"We can't wait until we get down and we're trying to crawl back
and then everybody all of a sudden wakes up,'' Pierce said. "We
try to play hard and scrap when we're down, but we don't have that
sense of urgency at the start of a ballgame and it's becoming a

After shooting 9-for-13 to start the game, the Celtics missed 12
shots in a row. New Orleans put together an 18-1 run during
Boston's dry spell, with Mashburn hitting three 3-pointers.

Elden Campbell completed the run with a jump shot from the top
of the key, giving New Orleans a 33-21 lead early in the second

New Orleans took its largest lead of the half, 43-27, after
scoring six straight points, including an inside basket and a pair
of free throws by Jerome Moiso.

Boston trailed 56-46 at halftime.

Game notes
Lynch's start was his second of the season. Hornets coach
Paul Silas said he was looking for Lynch to provide a favorable
defensive matchup against Pierce, who led the Celtics to victory in
the last meeting by driving to the hoop and scoring often from the
foul line. Wesley, who normally plays shooting guard, was shifted
to point guard. The only other time Lynch started this season was
when he was a last-second insert because Mashburn's contact lens
popped out just before tipoff. ... Boston made only one of its
first 11 3-pointers, and finished 8-of-24 from long range. ...
Pierce, who leads the league in free throws made and attempted, did
not go to the line until being fouled in the last minute of the
first half. ... Campbell tied a season high of eight rebounds in
only his first 10 minutes of play in the first half, but did not
have another the rest of the way.


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