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Pierce sparks Celtics recovery

THE Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors for the second time in two days on Monday, but this time they needed overtime to secure a 115-109 win.

Paul Pierce scored a season-high 39 points despite a sore right knee for the Celtics, who held off the Raptors 94-88 in Toronto on Sunday to end a four-game losing streak.

"There's players who play the game; there's players who absolutely love the game. Paul's one of those 'love' guys," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters after Pierce was on the court for more than 49 minutes.

"He's tough as nails ... (and) he's able to play through pain because of the love for the game."

Pierce nailed a three-pointer for the first points of the overtime session and the Celtics never trailed again.

"Doc's been around me long enough to know that it takes a lot to keep me off the court," Pierce told reporters.

"I was a little ginger but I was able to get some much-needed rest last night."

Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 12 rebounds to help secure the 19th victory in 21 home games for the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics, who trailed by 10 points in the third quarter before rallying.

Andrea Bargnani, who paced the Raptors with 23 points, forced overtime on a three-pointer with a second to play but was held scoreless in the extra session.

"We shot ourselves in the foot tonight," the Raptors' Chris Bosh, who added 18 points and 11 rebounds, told reporters.

"There were a couple rotations that we made mistakes," he noted. "On one (in overtime), we left the hottest guy on the court, Paul Pierce, open."

In Washington, Michael Redd scored 29 points, a healthy Andrew Bogut added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Washington blew another fourth-quarter lead as the Bucks won 97-91 over the Wizards.

Trading baskets down the stretch with Wizards guard Nick Young, who scored a career-high 30, Redd helped Milwaukee overcome a deficit that was 13 points in the second quarter, 11 at halftime and five entering the final period.

After Young made a 16-foot fadeaway jumper to pull Washington within 90-89, Redd answered with a 3-pointer with less than 1 1/2 minutes left. Young missed a 3 as the shot-clock expired on Washington's next possession, and that was that.

It's the 12th time this season the Eastern Conference-worst Wizards lost a game after leading in the fourth quarter.

In Chicago, Travis Outlaw scored a season-high 33 points and Greg Oden had 17 points and 13 rebounds as Portland beat Chicago 109-95.

It was a good start to the week for the Trail Blazers, who were coming off a rather chaotic one. They found themselves in an old, familiar spot - the center of controversy - for sending an e-mail to teams threatening legal action if they signed former forward Darius Miles, but the current players are doing a good job ignoring any distractions.

Drew Gooden led Chicago with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Ben Gordon scored 17 points. Deng added 14 points in 22 minutes off the bench but was 3-for-10 from the field after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle.

In other NBA action, it was: Jazz 120, Pacers 113; Nets 103, Thunder 99, OT; and Knicks 101, Hornets 95.


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