Celtics 99, Nets 96

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BOSTON (AP)—The Boston Celtics may be starting a new trend at the end of games.

Ricky Davis scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and the Celtics held on for a 99-96 win over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night.

The Celtics have endured their share of last-second losses and fourth-quarter collapses this season. But for the second straight game, they pulled it out in the final minutes.

“We’ve learned how to do it,” Davis said. “It takes a while to get. But once we learn it, we’ll be tough to stop. We have to keep from turning the ball over and we’ll be all right.”

Paul Pierce had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Boston. Delonte West added 12 points and Kendrick Perkins had 11.

On Wednesday, Boston used a late run to beat Minnesota. It’s just the second time the Celtics have won consecutive games this season.

“Somebody asked me, ‘How many times are you going to do this,”’ Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “As many as it takes. It’s good for the guys, but not for me.”

The Celtics won despite missing five of 10 free throws in the closing 4:34.

Jason Kidd had 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Nets, who host the Celtics on Saturday night in their second matchup this season. Vince Carter added 20 points and Richard Jefferson 16.

Kidd nearly tied it, but missed what would have been a four-point play after faking Pierce and drawing a foul before nailing a 3.

Perkins scored off Pierce’s miss in the lane to put the Celtics ahead for good at 94-92 with a little over 2 minutes to play.

Kidd hit his 3-pointer and drew the foul on Pierce with 38 seconds left, but he missed the free throw that would have tied it at 97. On the ensuing possession, Davis missed a jumper and Jefferson hauled in the rebound.

Carter drove inside and missed, and Davis grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 3.1 seconds left. He made both free throws before Carter back-rimmed a long 3-point attempt in the final seconds.

“I felt like it was a good look,” Carter said. “I thought it was going in.”

New Jersey also missed its share of free throws in the final minutes, going 3-for-7 in the final 3:14.

“We had the game on the road and the ball with 12 seconds left with one of the best players in the league,” Kidd said. “He did the thing, just didn’t hit the shot.”

New Jersey, which trailed by nine at the half, used a 12-2 run midway through the third quarter to take a 68-67 lead.

The Celtics hit seven of their first eight 3-pointers and opened up a 45-34 lead midway through the second. They pushed it to 51-38 before the Nets closed the half by scoring six of the final eight points, making it 53-44 at halftime.


Rivers said he likes consecutive games against the same team. “It’s rare when you can get a playoff intensity in the regular season,” he said before the game. … New Jersey guard Lamond Murray strained his left knee in the second quarter and didn’t play the rest of the game. … The Nets entered as only one of two teams with a winning road record in the Eastern Conference, with Detroit as the other. … A fan was escorted away from behind the Celtics’ bench by security early in the fourth.

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