OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - After a lackluster start to the lockout-shortened season, the Boston Celtics are finally figuring out how to win on nights they are far from their best.
Kevin Garnett scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a tiebreaking jumper with 5.1 seconds left that led the Celtics to a 105-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
``It was not a perfect game. Some nights we make it look difficult, some nights we make it look easy,' Garnett said. ``I said in the second half the team that actually played defense was going to have a chance to win the game or at least open it up. I thought in the second half we had a better defensive presence. We started getting stops.'
Brandon Bass added a season-high 22 points, Paul Pierce and Mickael Pietrus each chipped in 15 and Rajon Rondo dished out 14 assists for the Celtics, who have won eight out of 10 following a five-game losing streak.
This win came despite 18 turnovers and a 52.6 percent shooting night for the Warriors. But the Celtics came up with just enough plays down the stretch for the win.
``It's good for the team, it's good for our confidence,' forward Paul Pierce said. ``It shows we can win when we don't play well. We played defense when it mattered. That's what was most important.'
Rookie Klay Thompson led the Warriors with a season-high 26 points, David Lee added 22 and Nate Robinson had 20 points and 11 assists. But it wasn't enough as Golden State had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Bass made two free throws and a dunk to put the Celtics up 103-97 with 1:58 to play, but the short-handed Warriors wouldn't go down easily. Two free throws by Lee and a basket by Robinson after Bass' turnover cut the deficit to two points.
Then, after Pierce missed a jumper with 38 seconds left, Robinson used a nifty hesitation move to get down the lane for a tying layup with 30 seconds to play.
But Garnett answered with a long jumper off a pass from Pierce in the pick-and-roll to help the Celtics improve to 2-1 on their eight-game road trip.
``Simple play. Kept it very simple,' Garnett said. ``Paul had the one-on-one, they cut it off, he came to me and I hit it.'
Robinson missed a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds as the Warriors went for the win because they were short-handed a day after dealing Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.
``Going for all the marbles,' coach Mark Jackson said. ``I thought it'd be asking a heck of a lot to try to go into overtime with all the minutes that the guys have played. We were rolling the dice.'
Bogut and Jackson aren't scheduled to join the team until Thursday. Bogut is out with a broken left ankle and might not play again this season.
Point guard Stephen Curry is also out with a nagging sprained right ankle and will be held out until it is 100 percent healed. Curry, who turned 24 Wednesday, will see doctors Thursday.
``I could not be more satisfied with the energy, the effort, the commitment from my guys,' Jackson said. ``Now, we're not jumping up and down, but we certainly are not discouraged by what took place tonight. This is the type of performance to build on.'
Golden State managed to beat Sacramento 115-89 on Tuesday night in their most lopsided win of the season despite missing so many key players. The Warriors got off to another strong start against the Celtics.
They shot 56 percent in the first half and got 46 points from the trip of Thompson (17), Dorell Wright (15) and Lee (14) to take a 60-55 lead at the half on Lee's putback with 4.6 seconds left.
``We've just got to be that much more unselfish,' Thompson said. ``We did that well tonight, and we've just got to play that much harder on the defensive end. We can't give up easy buckets, because we don't have Monta there to bail us out and score 40 a game.'
Notes: Celtics F Chris Wilcox will undergo surgery for an enlarged aorta March 29 and will miss the rest of the season, dealing another blow to Boston's frontcourt depth. ... Lee needed six stitches above his right eye in the first half, but was able to finish the game. ... Warriors C Andris Biedrins missed two free throws in the second quarter and is 1 for 9 from the line this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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