Celtics Give O'Brien First W

Celtics' Paul Pierce, right, and Mark Blount, rear, double team Heat's Brian Grant (44). AP

The Boston Celtics stopped their losing streak, and got interim coach Jim O'Brien his first NBA win in the process.

Paul Pierce scored 28 points as the Celtics snapped a six-game losing skid with an 88-76 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Antoine Walker added 27 points for the Celtics, who lost to Portland on Monday night in O'Brien's debut as Rick Pitino's replacement. O'Brien, Pitino's longtime assistant, was appointed interim coach Monday when Pitino resigned after 3@1/2 years with Boston.

"Obviously, I'm thrilled. I'm thrilled for the team and, quite frankly, for me and the coaching staff," O'Brien said.

"They were primed and ripe to play a great game, and they did," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Everything they set up went in. We just didn't have the disposition to play the Celtics tonight."

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  • Eddie Jones scored 20 points for Miami, which had its three-game winning streak stopped despite a furious fourth-quarter rally.

    "They played well against Portland and we should have known they would come at us," said Jones.

    Miami, which trailed 55-36 in the third quarter, chipped away and got to 74-71 with 5:10 left on a layup by Jones.

    But the Celtics stopped the Heat's plans of winning their second game against Boston in five days when Bryant Stith made a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:59 left for an 83-73 lead.

    "I was able to come through when it mattered," Stith said. "Any time you have a big win against a pretty good team, you wnt to use it as a springboard."

    The Celtics have won three of their last four against Miami at home.

    Brian Grant added 14 points, and Tim Hardaway 11 for Miami.

    The Celtics capped a 5-0 run with a tip-in by Mark Blount with 10:04 left in the third to give them a 55-36 lead.

    But Miami answered with a 9-2 run late in the third and closed the margin to 59-53 on a 3-pointer by Hardaway with 4:23 left. Walker's layup with 2:46 left in the quarter increased Boston's lead to 66-53. The Celtics took a 70-58 lead into the fourth.

    The Celtics went on a 10-0 run in the last 4:56 of the first quarter to take a 27-12 lead. Miami shot only 4-of-16 from the field in the opening quarter and turned the ball over six times.

    "They aren't a bad team and they were going to win a game," Grant said. "They were a different team than we saw in Miami intensity wise."

    Dan Majerle's 3-pointer with 7:05 left in the second closed the gap to 35-25. But the Celtics held Miami to four points in the final 3:45 of the quarter and led 50-33 at halftime.

    Notes

  • Celtics guard Kenny Anderson sprained his right ankle with 2:15 left in the second after landing on Bruce Bowen's foot.
  • Boston signed guard Milt Palacio to a 10-day contract on Wednesday.
  • Celtics rookie forward Jerome Moiso was activated from the injured list, and the team placed Adrian Griffin on the list with lower back pain.
  • Of the Heat's 15 wins in their last 21 games, only three have come against teams with winning records.
  • In their first 16 games Miami committed at least 19 turnovers four times. Since then, they have done that only once.


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