Mar 19, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Mickael Pietrus (28) celebrates after hitting a shot in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Boston won 79-76. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
Milwaukee's offense finally sunk in the second half against the Celtics, breaking a streak of six straight wins.
The Milwaukee Bucks came into Thursday night's game riding a six-game win streak. The Boston Celtics were playing their seventh game in a two-week long cross-country road trip. Lo and behold, it was the latter team that displayed four-quarter stamina and made the game-winning run. Boston got an efficient offensive outing from Paul Pierce and spurts of bench contributions to take a 100-91 win in Milwaukee.
Both teams filled their buckets in the first half then went a bit dry in the second. Boston dropped 35 first quarter points in individual waves. Rajon Rondo penetrated to score and create, Paul Pierce got hot from inside and out, and then Mickael Pietrus and the bench came in and rained from the perimeter. The Celtics held a six-point lead at the end of the first, but Milwaukee stormed back into the lead in the second by tightening up their defense and spreading around the points. Every Buck played a part in building a halftime lead, with Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Dunleavy Jr. all cracking double digits in the first two quarters.
All four of those guys went cold or disappeared in the second half, though. After six and a half games full of neat passing and fruitful offense, the Bucks hit a bit of a wall. Drew Gooden, who had been on a tear leading up to the game, never found his touch and finished with just six points on 12 shots. Monta Ellis, making his home debut in a Bucks uniform, didn't play poorly but missed on quite a few solid looks. Milwaukee as a team mustered just 33 points in the second half, and couldn't hang on when Boston went on a run in the early fourth quarter.
That run -- the one that gave Boston an edge they'd never surrender -- was once again driven by the bench. Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, Greg Stiemsma and Avery Bradley joined Kevin Garnett on the floor and dominated the first four minutes of the period. An 8-0 run helped Boston put Milwaukee at arm's length, and they didn't buckle through the games final minutes.
Boston's win lifted them to 25-21 and helped them gain some distance on the Bucks and the rest of the pack nipping at their seventh-seeded heels. Milwaukee fell to 21-25 and now sits at ninth, one and a half games out of playoff contention.
See the full NBA scoreboard.