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11/14/2012 11:16 PM EST
Pierce scores 23 to lead Celtics past Jazz, 98-93
BOSTON 98, UTAH 93

By KEN POWTAK
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Celtics like to have a lot of veterans
for this very reason.



With point guard Rajon Rondo on the bench after injuring his
right ankle, Leandro Barbosa sparked a third-quarter run and ran
the offense in the fourth as the Celtics held off the Utah Jazz
98-93 on Wednesday night.



"That's what we brought him in here for," said Boston captain
Paul Pierce, who led the way with 23 points, including a pair of
key free throws with 19.5 seconds to play.



Reserves Jeff Green and Barbosa each scored 16 points for the
Celtics, who won for the fifth time in six games. Kevin Garnett
added 11 points and eight rebounds.



"That shows we are deep and we can have guys that can step up,"
backup center Chris Wilcox said. "Tonight we had it down the
stretch."



Rondo left the game for good in the third quarter with the ankle
injury after getting 10 assists - reaching double-digits for the
32nd straight game.



With Rondo sitting on the bench for the final quarter, Green and
Barbosa each played the entire 12 minutes, with Green scoring
seven points.



"Barbosa was terrific," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I mean,
he bailed us out."



Rivers said he "had no idea" if Rondo would play Thursday in
Brooklyn.



When Avery Bradley returns from offseason shoulder surgeries,
Barbosa will be in a mix of five guards along with Rondo, Jason
Terry and Courtney Lee.



Paul Millsap led the Jazz with 20 points and 12 boards. Al
Jefferson had 13 points and 14 rebounds.



"Tonight we proved that we can fight. Thats the difference
between the Celtics and us right now. They know how to seal the
game," Jefferson said. "That's what we've got to get to. Playing
these type of teams, it's going to help us get there. Now we
know what to do. So, we just need to go and try and take care of
these next two games on the road."



Mo Williams missed three shots in the closing minute for Utah,
which was coming off a triple-overtime win at Toronto on Monday
but fell to 1-5 on the road.



The Celtics grabbed a 94-93 edge when Garnett hit the second of
two free throws with 1:08 left. After Williams missed a long
jumper and Gordon Hayward the follow on an attempted put-back,
Garnett missed a jumper and Jefferson grabbed the rebound.



The Jazz called timeout with 33 seconds remaining and Williams
missed on a left-handed scoop shot with 22 seconds to go.



"He made a good drive and took it to the basket, but lost his
balance a little bit and tried to push it there at the end,"
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.



The Jazz then fouled Pierce and he nailed both free throws,
increasing the lead to three points.



Millsap then missed a drive, but Boston's Green was called for
traveling after grabbing the rebound, giving the Jazz one last
shot. Williams missed another long jumper.



Garnett sealed it with two free throws.



Boston led 93-88 after Green's three-point play with 3:40 left,
but Jefferson scored the next five points, tying it on a jumper
from the right wing with 1:21 to play.



Garnett's no-look, behind-the-back pass set up Barbosa for an
easy layup midway into the final quarter, giving Boston an 80-74
lead. The teams then traded baskets before Green drove the lane
for a dunk over Jefferson, bringing most of the crowd to its
feet. He was given a technical, though, for taunting him on the
play.



But despite the highlight baskets, the Jazz stayed close,
narrowing it to 88-86 on Jefferson's layup with 4 1/2 minutes to
play.



Rondo came up limping on a drive to the basket with 4:55 in the
third, left the game and headed to the locker room about a
minute later. He returned to the bench to loud cheers from the
crowd with under a minute left in the third. The Celtics
announced that he "rolled" his right ankle.



Pierce missed 10 of his initial 13 shots before hitting three
straight 3s in a 1:17 span midway into the third quarter, with
Rondo getting assists eight, nine and 10 on the baskets. Pierce
scored 15 in the quarter on 5-of-9 shooting and Hayward scored
10 for Utah.



After Pierce's long-range shooting exhibit, Barbosa drove to the
basket and scored six of the points in Boston's 8-0 run that
gave the Celtics a 68-60 edge.



The Jazz then scored 10 of the final 15 points in the quarter,
closing it to 73-70 at the break.



NOTES: Utah G Earl Watson, close to completing a six-month
comeback from knee surgery, rejoined the team, but wasn't in
uniform. "We'll see how he goes and how his body responds,"
Corbin said. "We're going to increase his activity a little bit
and see how he responds to it." ... Jefferson, part of a deal
that brought Garnett to the Celtics from Minnesota on July 31,
2003, received lofty pregame praise from Rivers. "He just keeps
getting better and better," Rivers said. "The one thing I never
thought I'd say about Al is: he's just becoming a better
passer." ... The Celtics' next home game is a rare Saturday
afternoon home contest against Toronto at 12:30. They face the
Nets first, though, on Thursday. ... The Jazz play the third of
a four-game road trip Friday at Philadelphia. ... Jefferson
received a nice ovation in pregame introductions.

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