Celtics rally but fall in OT, 99-94

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Celtics rally but fall in OT, 99-94

BOSTON The Boston Celtics won't be back at the TD Garden until the calendar flips to 2013.

And if it was going to be the last game of the year, it might as well have been a memorable one, right?

The C's set the stage for one of the more improbable comebacks of the season, rallying from a seven-point deficit with 42.2 seconds to play to force overtime.

But in the extra session, the C's simply didn't have enough left to complete the rally, losing 99-94 in overtime to the Bucks.

The Celtics had a chance to force a second overtime but Paul Pierce's 3-point attempt was blocked by Larry Sanders, who then sprinted down court for an uncontested dunk for the game's final points.

Pierce had another big game for the Celtics in scoring a game-high 35 points. It was Pierce's second straight game with 30 or more points, something he had not did sinceMarch 3and 6 against Orlando and the New York Knicks, respectively.

The loss drops Boston (13-13) to .500 for the season while the Bucks (14-11) continue to keep pace as one of the top teams in the Central Division.

Getting a feel for the true impact of Friday's loss won't be felt until the end of the season.

Friday's win was Milwaukee's third in four matchups over the Celtics, giving the Bucks the head-to-head series which could come into play if the two finish with an identical regular season record.

After leading most of the night, the Celtics found themselves down 74-72 after a 3-pointer by Brandon Jennings with just over eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

From there, the C's were fighting an uphill battle that ultimately ended with yet another loss to the Bucks.

For the second straight game, the Celtics starting five included the two Jasons - Collins at center and Terry at shooting guard.

After a series of lead changes throughout the first few minutes of the game, the Celtics broke open a 10-all tie with a 12-2 run capped off by a pair of free throws by Jeff Green.

Green, a 13.7 points per game scorer against the Bucks this season, had 14 points off the C's bench.

The C's would eventually take a 25-17 lead into the second quarter which put the Celtics in great position based on how they fared previously.

Boston came into Friday's game 9-3 when leading after the first quarter, which includes a 4-1 record when they hold an opponent to less than 19 points in the first.

Even with a lead throughout the second quarter, the Bucks still managed to stay within a striking distance near the end of the quarter.

After a Brandon Bass dunk put the Celtics ahead 43-33 with3:08to play in the half, Milwaukee went on a 10-3 run of their own to come within three points of the C's going into the half.

Closing out quarters well has been an issue for the Celtics all season, and sadly, that trend continued on Friday.

One of the many bright spots for Boston at the half was the play of Paul Pierce, who showed no signs of cooling down after a red-hot performance in Boston's win over Cleveland on Wednesday when he tallied a season-high 40 points.

At the half on Friday, Pierce led all players with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.