Pierce comes up big for Celts

With the other two members of Boston’s Big 3 out of action, Paul Pierce found a way to beat the tenacious Chicago Bulls.

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce

Celtics 106 Bulls 104

With the other two members of Boston’s Big 3 out of action, Paul Pierce found a way to beat the tenacious Chicago Bulls.

The MVP of last year’s NBA finals scored 26 points, hitting one jumper to tie the game at the end of regulation and three more in the final 77 seconds of overtime on Tuesday night to help the Celtics beat the Bulls 106-104 and take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series.

Pierce really turned it on when Ray Allen fouled out late in the game. Kevin Garnett, the other member of the Big 3, was in street clothes because of an injury.

“I just thought when Ray fouled out it was time for me to really step up,” said Pierce, who scored 12 points in the 10 minutes after Allen left the game. “Better late than never.”

Rajon Rondo scored 28 points with 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Kendrick Perkins had 16 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks for Boston. The Celtics could finish the Bulls off in Chicago on Thursday in Game 6; if not, the decisive seventh game would be in Boston on Saturday.

Ben Gordon scored 26 and Joakim Noah had 11 points and 17 rebounds for Chicago, but Brad Miller missed the potential game-tying free throws with two seconds left in overtime after Rondo fouled him to prevent an easy layup.

Mavericks 106 Spurs 93

Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points and Dallas won a playoff series for the first time since 2006, eliminating the Spurs in five games.

Magic 91 76ers 78

Dwight Howard had 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds, a dominating performance that powered the Magic to a 3-2 series lead over Philadelphia.

Trl Blazers 88 Rockets 77

Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 25 points, and the Trail Blazers staved off elimination in the playoffs by beating Houston in Game 5.

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