Milwaukee, WI – Paul Pierce outdueled Monta Ellis in the fourth quarter and the Boston Celtics downed the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-92, on Saturday.
Pierce netted eight of his 25 points in the final frame for the Celtics, who have won three of their last four games.
Kevin Garnett added 18 points and six rebounds, while Rajon Rondo tallied 10 points and 10 assists in the win.
"I believe in this team," Boston head coach Doc Rivers said. "We just have to play hard every night. It'll give us a chance to win games when we're not playing great."
Ellis had 11 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth for Milwaukee, which has dropped two of three since beginning the year with back-to-back victories.
"We fought hard the whole game, but in the end, they hit the shots they had to and we didn't," Ellis said.
Following Ellis' three-point play, which gave the hosts a 77-76 edge with 5:05 remaining, Ellis and Pierce then traded jumpers before swapping 3-pointers for an 82-81 Bucks lead with 3:54 to play.
The Celtics then recorded the next six points as Garnett nailed a pair of jumpers before Brandon Bass knocked down a left baseline attempt, which gave the visitors an 87-82 margin with 1:54 left.
A bit later, after Ellis buried two free throws and Pierce misfired on a triple at the other end, Marquis Daniels' pullup jumper pulled Milwaukee within 91-90 with 25 seconds to go.
Jason Terry split a pair from the charity stripe, but Jeff Green forced an Ersan Ilyasova turnover on Milwaukee's ensuing trip down the floor. Pierce then made 1-of-2 from the line with 4.9 ticks on the clock for a 93-90 C's lead.
Boston elected to foul Brandon Jennings instead of defending the 3-point line. Jennings made the first and missed the second attempt, but Rondo flew down the lane for the rebound.
Rondo, though, split a pair, which made it 94-91 and kept Milwaukee's hopes alive with 3.5 to go.
Again Boston elected to foul. Ellis knocked down the first before intentionally missing the second, but he was called for a lane violation.
Garnett nailed both free throws at the other end to seal the outcome.
The Bucks took a 22-20 lead after a quarter of play and a 42-39 edge into the locker room.
The home team led, 68-64, going into the final stanza.
Rondo has gone 30 straight games with 10-plus assists, the third longest streak in NBA history. Magic Johnson holds the longest such streak at 46 games ... Milwaukee defeated Boston, 99-98, on Nov. 2 in Beantown.