April 5, 2007
Celtics Win with Loss
- Come lottery time in May, the Celtics may look back on their 98-89
loss to the Bucks last night as one of the most important victories of
the season. The defeat put the Celtics three games ahead of Milwaukee in
the ping-pong ball race. A Celtics win would have pulled the Bucks
within a game of Boston for the second-worst record in the NBA.
Bucks exploited a Celtics team sans its top two scorers - Paul Pierce
and Al Jefferson, neither of whom made the trip and without a single
active player with more than three years of NBA experience. Those
factors were fatal as the Bucks shot 58.3 percent in the first half and
48.1 percent for the game.
Rajon Rondo led the Celtics
with 16 points. Allan Ray and NBA Development League pickup Kevinn
Pinkney, who was signed to a 10-day contract yesterday, had 15 points
apiece. The highlight for Boston came when Ryan Gomes nailed a 3-pointer
just before the halftime buzzer that cut the Milwaukee lead to 53-52.
Riding that momentum, the Celtics used a 15-5 run carrying over from the
first to the second half to take a 64-58 lead with 7:54 left in the
third. But it was quickly erased and the Celtics never led the rest of
Boston had no answer for diminutive Bucks
guard Earl Boykins. The 5-foot-5-inch wonder had 32 points, 4 shy of his
career high. The Celtics tried everything to stop him, including a
playful push from the bench late in the game.
"Earl killed us," said coach Doc Rivers. "He's a crafty little dude."
game had the feel of an exhibition. Pierce and Jefferson were missing,
and the Bucks were without star Michael Redd (left knee pain), point
guard Mo Williams (left knee pain), and forward/center Brian Skinner
(ear infection). All three had started in Milwaukee's 119-101 loss to
the Hornets the night before, with Redd pouring in 27 points. The Bucks
also were without Charlie Villanueva, who underwent right shoulder
surgery March 27, and Andrew Bogut (left foot sprain). Both players were
shut down on March 21.