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02/29/2012 11:51 PM EST
Garnett, Rondo (triple-double) lead Celts by Bucks
BOSTON 102, MILWAUKEE 96

By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- For the second time in two nights, the Boston
Celtics played a team trying to knock them out of the top eight
in the Eastern Conference.



Both times, the aging former champions held onto their playoff
position.



"I'm just glad we're back to .500," Celtics coach Doc Rivers
said Wednesday after Boston beat the Milwaukee Bucks 102-96 for
its second straight win since entering the All-Star break on a
five-game losing streak.



Rajon Rondo had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to record
his third triple-double of the season, and Kevin Garnett scored
25 points with 10 rebounds. The victory over the ninth-place
Bucks left the Celtics tied with the New York Knicks for the
last two playoff spots in the East.



It's a bit of a comedown for the franchise that won its
NBA-record 17th title in 2008 and returned to the finals two
years later. But in this lockout-shortened season, Boston's best
chance may be to eke into the playoffs well-rested and hope for
an upset once it gets there.



"Hopefully we can get a good rhythm going here," Celtics forward
Paul Pierce said. "And just kind of catch our stride in the
second half of the season."



Ersan Ilyasova had 25 points with 10 rebounds and Drew Gooden
scored 23 for the Bucks, who are percentage points ahead of the
Cavaliers in ninth place. Brandon Jennings had just six points
on 2-for-11 shooting to go with his eight assists.



"It's another game where one of the better point guards has
gotten the better of us," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "That's
happened often this year and that's not all on Brandon. It's on
our defense and it's on the guy that's guarding him."



Jennings made back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 91 seconds to
cut Boston's lead to 98-93 with 1:19 left. Milwaukee got within
two points on Ilyasova's put-back layup, but Garnett sank four
free throws in the final 15 seconds to clinch it.



The Bucks travel to Atlanta and Orlando on Friday and Saturday.



"We have to get it done," Gooden said. "You know, it's funny. We
never get blown out. We fight to the end, and it just kind of
(upsets) us that we come up short every time, almost."



Rondo had six rebounds and five assists in the third quarter,
when the Celtics went on a 20-4 run to turn a five-point deficit
into a double-digit lead. Boston led by 17 in the fourth quarter
and had a 98-83 edge with 3 minutes left when the Bucks scored
10 straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Jennings
12 seconds apart.



Skiles said Jennings seemed as though he didn't want to take
shots.



"That's part of the growing process for me," Jennings said.
"Right now my teammates are making shots. ... I just felt like I
didn't have to do so much because my teammates were making so
many shots."



Ilyasova hit a putback that cut it to 98-96 before Garnett sank
a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds left. The Celtics gave
Jennings a layup but he missed it, and he also missed a 3-point
attempt before Garnett grabbed the rebound and went back to the
foul line for two more free throws.



Chris Wilcox came off the bench to grab 13 rebounds in 26
minutes for Boston.



Brandon Bass, making his second consecutive start because of
Jermaine O'Neal's wrist injury, scored 16 points with seven
rebounds for Boston. Milwaukee led 60-55 with 8:34 left in the
third quarter when the Celtics scored the next 12 points and 20
out of 24 to open an 11-point lead.



Both teams were playing for the second consecutive night
following the All-Star break.



Boston beat Cleveland, then the ninth-place team in the East, on
Tuesday to hold onto eighth place in the East. The Bucks were
coming off a 119-118 victory over the Washington Wizards earned
when Ilyasova tipped in Jennings' miss with 2.2 seconds left.



Ilyasova had 10 points in the first quarter and Rondo had eight,
when the teams finished tied 25-all. The Bucks took the lead
with Larry Sanders' tip-in on the first possession of the second
quarter and led for the rest of the half, but Boston cut a
nine-point deficit to four just before the break when Rondo
drove for a layup and then Ray Allen stole the ensuing inbounds
pass to set up Keyon Dooling's 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left.



Notes: Garnett and Sanders exchanged words, drawing a double
technical foul with 6:23 left in the second quarter. ... Gooden
had 16 points and six assists and Jennings had seven assists at
halftime. ... O'Neal missed his third straight game with a
sprained left wrist. ... Mike Dunleavy picked up a technical
foul complaining after he was beaten for a rebound by Rondo down
the stretch. ... It was Rondo's 16th career triple-double, and
his 10th in the regular season.

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