BOSTON – Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders dominated inside against Kevin Garnett, one of his boyhood idols, and he made sure Paul Pierce didn’t have another chance at a clutch basket from long range.
Monta Ellis scored five of his 27 points in overtime, Sanders scored 17 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and saved it with a blocked shot, leading the Bucks over Boston Celtics 99-94 on Friday night.
And it certainly wasn’t easy.
Milwaukee captured the final meeting between the teams this season despite blowing a seven-point lead late in regulation.
“I just love playing against KG. He’s one of the guys I liked watching growing up,” said Sanders, breaking into a smile when asked if it was something about seeing Boston that brings out his best.
The Bucks won for the sixth time in eight games, taking three of four against the Celtics, who had a five-game home winning streak snapped despite 35 points by Pierce.
Pierce, who had sent the game to OT with a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, was blocked by Sanders as he attempted a tying 3 in the closing seconds of overtime.
“I knew if he got it off he had a pretty good shot at making it,” said Sanders, who posted career-bests in rebounds and points. “It probably would have been bottom.”
With the Bucks leading 97-94, Pierce came off a screen, got open briefly on the right wing before Sanders came flying out. Sanders then broke down court for a dunk to seal it.
“He’s the only one that really had it going,” Rivers said of Pierce. “I always jokingly — and it’s the truth — say, ‘It’s a make-miss league’ and tonight was evident of that.”
Jeff Green scored 14 points and Garnett had 12 on 6 of 22 shooting. The Celtics shot just 38 percent, with Jason Terry going 1 for 15.
Pierce had scored a season-high 40 points in Boston’s previous game.
“I think right now, it’s this point in the season where I’m in a good groove,” Pierce said. “I’m feeling good about my shot. I’m feeling good about my pace of the game. I’m just trying to do what I can to help this ball club win.”
But he didn’t have a chance on the last shot.
“I thought I got fouled on it,” he said. “But you know, that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
Terry was also 5 for 17 in a loss the last time against Milwaukee.
Luc Mbah a Moute added 20 points for Milwaukee.
Green had to leave with a towel over his left eye in the closing seconds of OT. The Celtics said he had a bruised left cheek and chipped teeth.
In overtime, Ellis’ consecutive baskets, coming nearly two minutes apart, had given the Bucks a 94-90 lead with just over a minute to play. But, like in regulation, Pierce made a jumper and Garnett hit a long jumper, tying it with 37 seconds left.
After a timeout, Ellis was fouled by Courtney Lee and hit the first of two, making it 95-94.
Pierce was then forced to foul Brandon Jennings with 18.5 seconds left. Jennings hit both free throws and a late basket provided the final margin.
The Celtics had trailed 88-81 with under a minute to play in regulation before Pierce scored five points, tying it on a 3 from the top with 2.5 seconds to play.