Davis scored seven points in the last 5:21, including the go-ahead basket, and the Celtics held off a late threat for a 103-97 win Wednesday night over the Milwaukee Bucks, who played without top scorer Michael Redd. Pierce scored 11 of the Celtics’ first 22 points of the fourth quarter.
“We did enough things to win the game,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “At this point, if you don’t play well and you win, you count that as a bonus.”
The Celtics remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia in the division and have seven games left. The 76ers, who beat Charlotte on Wednesday night, have eight.
“We’re playing for home court (advantage) with Indiana right down our backs,” Pierce said. “Every game is getting very important.
Milwaukee was eliminated from playoff contention after losing for the ninth time in 10 games and 10th straight on the road.
“Not having guys healthy throughout the course of the season was a factor,” said Desmond Mason, who led the Bucks with 23 points. “We never really developed a solid rhythm.”
Davis led Boston with 27 points, the 18th time he scored at least 20 as a substitute this season. Pierce added 26, with 22 coming in the second half.
“He was great” after intermission, Rivers said of Pierce. “Because he moved the ball so much, they stopped denying him (the ball) and I thought Paul got shots.”
Mason scored Milwaukee’s last 14 points, cutting the lead to 99-97 with a three-point play with 18 seconds left. Then Davis hit two free throws with 17 seconds to go, and the Bucks’ last chance ended when Mason missed a layup and Delonte West made two free throws for Boston with 9 seconds remaining.
“Everybody knows Ricky Davis can be a starter on any team in the NBA,” Mason said. “When both he and Pierce get it going, they are tough to beat.”
Mason didn’t get any help from Redd, who missed his first game with tendinitis in his left Achilles. Antoine Walker sat out his third straight game for Boston with a bruised left knee.
Milwaukee took its last lead with 6:09 left in the game when Mason’s jumper made it 85-83. Then Pierce started a 9-0 run with a field goal that tied the game.
Davis followed with a layup that gave Boston the lead for good then stole the ball and fed Mark Blount for an alley-oop dunk. Pierce ended the surge with a 3-pointer for a 92-85 lead with 4:01 to go.
Mason went 2-for-14 from the field in the first three quarters before heating up in the fourth. Dan Gadzuric had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Joe Smith scored 16 points. But Gadzuric and Smith were scoreless in the fourth quarter.
“I just wanted to rest them for the stretch run,” Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said.
Milwaukee went ahead in the third quarter, turning a 47-47 halftime tie into a 65-54 lead with an 18-7 run. But Boston came back and trailed 73-70 going into the fourth quarter.
Smith had 10 and Gadzuric added eight of the Bucks’ 26 points in the third quarter, while Pierce had 11 of the Celtics’ 23.
Walker may return in Saturday’s game at New Jersey. … The last time the Bucks lost at least 10 straight road games was when they ended the 2001-02 season with an 11-game slide. … Milwaukee hit 45.2 percent of its shots. On Sunday, the Bucks broke an 18-game streak in which it shot under 50 percent.