BOSTON Courtesy of a last-second gaffe in regulation, the Boston Celtics needed a few extra minutes to finally put away the pesky Houston Rockets, 97-92, in overtime.
The Celtics (20-17) seemingly had the game put away with an 84-82 lead with less than 20 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
Houston's Luis Scola's shot was off the mark, Paul Pierce grabbed the rebound and tossed it down court to Rajon Rondo who had nothing between him and the rim but air.
And then . . . he missed the lay-up.
Houston made the most of its late- game reprieve, as Goran Dragic tied the game with a long jumper with three seconds to play.
Boston had a chance to win it in regulation, but Ray Allen's off-balance jumper rimmed in and out as time expired.
In the overtime period, the Celtics led by as many as five points but committed more end-of-the-game mistakes that gave the Rockets life.
Kevin Garnett, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds, missed a pair of free throws in the final minute.
And after Houston's Kyle Lowry missed a running shot in the lane, Paul Pierce was called for an eight-second violation courtesy of some tight defense by Courtney Lee.
But another missed shot by the Rockets resulted in another rebound for the Celtics.
Moments later, the ball found its way into the hands of Ray Allen who put the game away with a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining.
The two went back and fourth in the first half, but Boston began to pull away in the third and led, 57-47, after Paul Pierce made a pair of free throws with 7:58 to play in the quarter. However, Houston responded with a 21-6 run to close out the quarter.
HOT SHOT: Paul Pierce goes off for a game-high 30 points which included seven of Boston's 13 points in overtime. For Pierce, it was the second straight game he has scored at least 30 points. Pierce made no secret about wanting to take over down the stretch. "I was, especially in the fourth quarter, trying to give us some life with the crowd and everything," he said.
IN-N-OUT: Kyle Lowry shared team-high scoring honors with 18 points, but he shot 4-for-17 in doing so. In addition to the poor shooting, he also turned the ball over six times.
SUPER SUB: Boston rookie Greg Stiemsma is not in the regular rotation, but that hasn't stopped him from being ready when called upon. With Brandon Bass re-aggravating an ankle injury from Sunday against the New York Knicks, coupled with Chris Wilcox being in foul trouble, Stiemsma was on the floor for 13 minutes and produced in a big way with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.
TURNING POINT: Leading 95-92 with 30.3 seconds to play in overtime, the Houston Rockets were looking to tie the game after Paul Pierce turned the ball over on an eight-second violation. Kyle Lowry pass was stolen by Pierce with 24.9 seconds to play. The ball wound up in the hands of Ray Allen soon afterward. Allen made a pair of free throws with 18 seconds to play that would be the game's final points scored.
BY THE NUMBERS: 79: That would be the number of minutes played by Kevin Garnett in Boston's last two games, way more than the C's would like to see him play this season.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "We're starting to play good basketball and we're starting to win basketball games when we don't play good basketball, and that may be more important." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers.