PHILADELPHIA -- Ray Allen has ended a victory this way before.
The Celtics guard just finds his spot, adjusts his tie, and takes the abuse.
"He got game! He got game!" bench-warming teammate J.R. Giddens said. "I think Jesus did it again!"
Like absorbing good-natured ribbing about his long-ago movie star days, Allen's knack for the dramatic shot never gets old.
"I got to my spot and (Pierce) made a great play," Allen said.
Boston won with Kevin Garnett home with the flu for the second straight game. No problem for the streaking Celtics who showed again the Big Two is still better than just about any team's five.
Boston needed every last tick of the clock to make it 12 wins in a row.
Pierce did the heavy lifting in the fourth quarter, playing at his game-changing best to keep the Celtics in the game until the end. Allen took over in the final minute and surely bolstered his case to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as injury replacement for Orlando's Jameer Nelson.
One of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history promptly sank one with 31 seconds left that tied the game at 97, then hit the winner to stun the Sixers.
"I think he's an All-Star," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "If they make an injury substitution, I think those shots clinched it."
Andre Iguodala had just hit a fallaway jumper for a 99-97 lead for the Sixers -- who led the entire fourth quarter until the final basket. Pierce pump-faked a defender, dribbled toward the top of the 3-point arc, then swung the ball around to a waiting Allen.
"I just knew I wanted to get to my spot," Allen said. "Even if somebody was running out on me, at least I got to where I got the ball, my legs into it and the ball in the air."
Pierce scored 29 points, Allen had 23 and Glen Davis had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Sixers squandered a fourth-quarter lead for the second consecutive game and are now one game under .500 after making a steady push to get their record even.
Pierce did most of the damage to deflate the Sixers again. He converted a three-point play, then made an impressive twisting, off-balance runner that cut the deficit to 92-90 with 2:42 left. He was whistled, however, for his fifth foul on Lou Williams' layup down the lane. Williams made the free throw and the lead was back to five.
Iguodala's basket with 6.8 seconds left briefly appeared to be enough. He dribbled around Pierce and hit the fallaway from just a step or two above the free throw line. He pumped his fists and the Sixers went wild on the bench.
One big difference, though. While this was a huge game for the Sixers, Philly was just another routine game for the best team in the NBA.
"We end up doing what we need to do to win," Allen said.
Iguodala scored 22 points and Andre Miller had 21 for the Sixers.
"We should have won the game and we lost," Iguodala said. "They didn't have one of their Hall of Famers, so there's no excuse."
The Sixers made their run without any major production from Elton Brand. In the clearest sign yet that Brand hasn't fully recovered from his separated right shoulder in December, he played with a protective covering on the shoulder. He came off the bench for the sixth straight game since his return, didn't play in the second half and was scoreless in only 8 minutes.
Brand said his shoulder felt stiff over the last few days. He called the discomfort a "setback, absolutely," and didn't know if he would miss any more games.
"It's not just the pain, it's the restriction," Brand said. "It's like I can't make a little hook shot without it bothering me."
The Sixers have lost two straight on their season-high seven-game homestand.
Any concerns Philadelphia's run of 18 straight missed shots in a fourth-quarter meltdown in Saturday's loss against New Jersey would affect the Sixers were erased when they raced back and scored the first 15 points of an 18-2 run that put them ahead 47-44.
Iguodala stole the ball and drove down the left side for a driving layup. The ball bounced twice on the rim before it plopped through the net for the go-ahead basket.
Samuel Dalembert, feeling spry again four days after he sprained his left ankle, made one of Philadelphia's best defensive plays of the season. He blocked Pierce's spin move, sending the ball off the backboard. Glen Davis grabbed the ball and went straight up with it, only to have his attempt swatted away by the 6-foot-11 Dalembert.
The back-to-back blocks sent the crowd of nearly 17,000 into a frenzy and the Sixers would take a one-point lead on the next possession.
They could have used some more of those clutch plays in the last 60 seconds -- something the Celtics know all about.
"It's being able to win a game in the fourth quarter, knowing exactly what you go through and how to execute down the stretch on both ends of the floor," Allen said.
|The fans know it. So do the Sixers. Giving Ray Allen so much room is a recipe for disaster. (Getty Images)|
|Boston (41-9) «||32||18||19||31||100|
|BOS:P. Pierce 29 Pts
BOS:G. Davis 11 Reb
BOS:R. Rondo 8 Ast
|PHI:A. Iguodala 22 Pts
PHI:R. Evans 10 Reb
PHI:A. Miller 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|R. Allen, SG||43||9-18||2-2||3||3||4||23|
|G. Davis, PF||42||6-11||0-1||11||2||4||12|
|P. Pierce, SG||37||10-23||8-8||7||6||5||29|
|R. Rondo, PG||36||9-12||2-2||5||8||2||20|
|K. Perkins, C||32||1-3||0-0||8||1||2||2|
|L. Powe, PF||17||2-2||2-3||4||1||3||6|
|E. House, SG||14||1-3||0-0||1||0||0||2|
|T. Allen, SG||14||2-2||0-0||0||4||4||4|
|P. O'Bryant, C||5||1-2||0-0||2||0||2||2|
|S. Cassell, PG||Did Not Play|
|K. Garnett, PF||Did Not Play|
|B. Scalabrine, PF||Did Not Play|
|G. Pruitt, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Giddens, SG||Did Not Play|
|B. Walker, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|A. Miller, PG||40||8-19||5-6||4||7||3||21|
|A. Iguodala, SF||40||8-17||6-7||6||6||3||22|
|T. Young, SF||36||4-13||2-2||1||2||0||10|
|S. Dalembert, C||33||7-13||0-0||7||0||3||14|
|W. Green, SG||16||2-4||0-0||1||2||2||4|
|L. Williams, SG||26||3-7||5-5||0||4||3||11|
|R. Evans, PF||24||1-2||6-8||10||1||3||8|
|R. Ivey, PG||10||1-3||0-0||0||0||1||3|
|E. Brand, PF||9||0-2||0-0||3||0||1||0|
|M. Speights, PF||6||3-3||0-0||1||0||2||6|
|D. Marshall, PF||Did Not Play|
|T. Ratliff, C||Did Not Play|
|K. Rush, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Smith, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|