Milwaukee (7-7) at Boston (6-8)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: -9° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Nov 28, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Milwaukee Bucks hope T.J. Ford can continue to impress NBA stars as they take on Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics in the opener of a home-and-home series.

T.J. Ford had a career-high nine assists, and Michael Redd scored 26 points, leading the Bucks to a 95-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

Philadelphia guard Allen Iverson autographed a pair of his sneakers and had them delivered to Ford in Milwaukee’s locker room in response to Ford’s hard-nosed play.

“When Iverson gives me respect … that’s why I play the game,” said Ford, who also had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. “And from game to game I think I’m earning respect around the league.

“That’s what you want to do, progress every game,” Ford said, “so at the end of the season I can say I was better than I was at the beginning.”

Ford, Milwaukee’s first-round draft pick this season, is averaging 7.1 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds.

The Bucks won their second straight, returning their record to .500.

Joe Smith had 16 points and nine rebounds, Desmond Mason added 13 points and Tim Thomas had 12 despite playing only a minute in the fourth quarter after spraining his left ankle. Thomas’ status for Friday’s game is uncertain.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Ford said. “That win in Toronto (82-62 on Sunday) really gave us a boost.”

The Bucks lead the Eastern Conference in scoring, averaging 94.8 points through 14 games.

Pierce scored 15 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday and the Celtics ended a four-game slide with a 94-92 win over the Orlando Magic.

Pierce made 6-of-8 from the field in the fourth and finished 12-for-22, making at least half of his shots for just the second time all season. He also added eight rebounds and six assists.

“I finally took advantage of my opportunities,” Pierce said. “I’ve been letting this team down.”

These teams also meet Saturday in Milwaukee.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 26): Bucks - 4th place (tied), 5 GB, Central Division. Celtics - 3rd place, 1 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Bucks - F Smith, F Thomas, C Daniel Santiago, G Ford, G Redd. Celtics - F Jiri Welsch, F Vin Baker, C Mark Blount, G Pierce, G Mike James.

TEAM LEADERS: Bucks - Redd, 21.8 ppg; Smith, 8.6 rpg; Ford, 6.1 apg. Celtics - Pierce, 21.9 ppg and 5.4 apg; Baker, 7.2 rpg.

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Bucks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 22; Bucks, 106-97. At Boston, Redd contributed 16 points for Milwaukee while Pierce paced the Celtics with 30.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bucks - 3-4 on the road; Celtics - 3-4 at home.

INJURIES: Bucks - F Brian Skinner (knee). Celtics - F Raef LaFrentz (knee); F Brandon Hunter (Achilles’); F Chris Mills (heel).

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