Celtics end Bucks’ 6-game winning streak, 100-91

Posted March 22, 2012, at 11:12 p.m.

MILWAUKEE — Paul Pierce scored 25 points to help the Boston Celtics snap the Milwaukee Bucks’ six-game winning streak, 100-91 on Thursday night.

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Mickael Pietrus scored 13 points for the Celtics, who were playing their seventh game on an eight-game road trip. With Thursday’s win, the Celtics improved to 4-3 on the trip.

Brandon Jennings had 19 points for Milwaukee.

It was the Bucks home debut for Monta Ellis, who was acquired along with forward Ekpe Udoh in a trade with the Golden State Warriors last week. Ellis, who went first in pregame introductions and received a loud ovation, scored 13 points on 6-for-18 shooting.

Milwaukee came into Thursday with four straight games with 30-plus assists as a team. They had 23 on Thursday, but struggled to move the ball in the second half.

Before the game, Bucks coach Scott Skiles said he challenged Jennings to defend Rajon Rondo, something the Bucks have struggled with in the past. The Bucks contained Rondo — he had 10 points and 14 assists — but didn’t have a defensive answer for Pierce.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game that he was concerned about his team keeping its energy up in the final two games of the trip. But it was the Bucks who struggled down the stretch.

Boston led 74-71 going into the fourth quarter, then jumped out to an 82-73 lead with an 8-0 run.

With Milwaukee later trailing 88-77, Jennings missed a jumper and Keyon Dooling hit a long jumper on the other end, putting the Celtics up 90-77 with 5:54 left.

Milwaukee showed some signs of life on a four-point play by Jennings — a layup, a foul and a technical on Rivers — but the Bucks still trailed 92-83 with 4:34 left.

A pair of free throws by Jennings cut the lead to 92-85, but a jumper by Garnett and a layup by Rondo put Boston ahead 96-85 with 3:33 remaining.

NOTES: Rivers said before the game that former Cleveland Cavalier Ryan Hollins is expected to join the Celtics once he passes a physical. “It’s not official, but he agreed and all the papers are being drawn up and hopefully by the end of the day, he’ll be a Celtic,” Rivers said. … Milwaukee’s Carlos Delfino had a scary moment in the third quarter, accidentally taking a hard hit to the head when he hit the shoulder of teammate Drew Gooden. After spending a few minutes on the ground, Delfino continued to play. … Boston’s Brandon Bass appeared to tweak his ankle near the end of the second quarter but was able to continue playing. … Skiles was called for a technical foul in the first quarter.

Pacers 85, Wizards 83

WASHINGTON — David West grabbed three offensive rebounds in the final 70 seconds, Darren Collison made a key steal of an inbounds pass, and Paul George’s 3-pointer with 1:01 to play gave the Indiana Pacers their first lead of the game, completing a 22-point comeback Thursday night for an 85-83 win over the Washington Wizards.

The Pacers effectively kept the ball away from the Wizards in the game’s final minute until Washington got one final possession with 9.5 seconds to play. John Wall, trying to find room for an open shot, essentially dribbled out the clock, making a would-be-tying 12-footer after the horn had sounded.

Roy Hibbert scored 19 points, Danny Granger had 16, and West and George finished with 13 apiece for the Pacers, who recovered from an abysmal first half in which they were outshot, outhustled and outrun by one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Down by 20 at halftime, Indiana roared back with an 11-0 third-quarter run led by Granger, and rode Hibbert through the middle of the fourth quarter to stay close. Granger made a pair of free throws with 1:42 left to cut the deficit to two, then George made the 3-pointer that put the Pacers in front.

Collison then alertly stole Nene’s nonchalant inbounds pass, and the Pacers kept getting rebounds from their own missed shots until Collison made 1 of 2 free throws with 9.5 seconds to play.

Jordan Crawford scored 21 points, Chris Singleton matched his career-high with 16, and Wall had 16 points and nine assists for the Wizards.

For a while, it appeared the Wizards would ride the Nene effect to another win. In his second game with the Wizards since the trade deadline swap that brought him over from the Denver Nuggets, the Brazilian was the catalyst for a team’s 6 for 6 start with six assists, a burst that put Washington in good shape to possibly sweep games on back-to-back nights for the first time in more than two years.

But Nene’s presence diminished after the first quarter. He finished with six points, five rebounds and three turnovers.

The Pacers were outrebounded 24-14 and outrun 18-2 in fast-break points in the first half, and West had his left pinkie bent backward while trying to grab a rebound in the third quarter and did not return until early in the fourth.

By then, however, his teammates had the momentum and went on to get their second straight win.

NOTES: Wizards F Andray Blatche, who has been booed frequently at home all season and needs to get himself back into shape following a recent calf injury, sat out for the second straight game to work on his conditioning. “They the fans — they see it. My mom sees it. This was a bad year for me, one of my worst ever,” Blatche told reporters before the game. “I let my mom down, my family down, my teammates, the whole organization down this season.” … It was the first Wizards-Pacers game of this lockout-compressed season, but the teams will meet twice more — on March 29 in Indiana and April 4 in Washington. … Indiana’s trade deadline pickup, Leandro Barbosa, was also playing his second game with his new team. He finished with two points in 15 minutes, two days after scoring 12 points in 18 minutes in Tuesday’s 102-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

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