BOSTON — Zaza Pachulia had 20 points and nine rebounds, making two free throws with 44 seconds left to give Milwaukee its first lead since the opening basket, and the Bucks rallied from a 22-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 105-98 on Friday night.
The loss spoiled the home debut of new Celtics coach Brad Stevens and dampened the cheer following the Red Sox victory in the World Series on Wednesday. Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner took the court before the game with the World Series trophy, and Hall of Famer Bill Russell was also courtside a few hours after a statue of him was unveiled near City Hall.
John Henson had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks, who scored the last 10 points of the game.
Vitor Faverani scored 12 points with 18 rebounds for Boston. Brandon Bass and Jeff Green each had nine rebounds for the Celtics, who scored 20 of the first 26 points and led 72-50 with 19 minutes to play.
But Milwaukee scored 11 of the last 14 points in the third quarter and then tied it 93-all with a 20-10 run to start the fourth. After Gerald Wallace hit a 3-pointer to give Boston back the lead, the teams traded free throws and then the Bucks scored the next 10 points.
Milwaukee made 10 straight free throws to end the game, including two by Pachulia that made it 99-98.
It was the first regular-season home game for the Celtics. Stevens, who replaced Doc Rivers, made his NBA debut about a week after his 37th birthday.
Injured point guard Rajon Rondo took over Pierce’s usual role of speaking to the fans before the opener. Wearing a suit and tie and a fake beard – a tribute to the Red Sox – Rondo welcomed the fans before taking a seat on the bench.
Rondo, who is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, is not expected to play for at least a month.
The Celtics aren’t expected to be competitive until he returns, which is OK with the fans who want them to earn a high pick in what is said to be the deepest NBA draft in years.
NOTES: Celtics PG Avery Bradley was evaluated for a concussion on Friday but was cleared to play. … Jared Sullinger returned from a one-game suspension after he was charged with domestic violence. The charges were dismissed by a judge.