Wednesday, April 1, 2009

BOSTON (AP) - Ray Allen made a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in the second overtime Wednesday night to lift the Boston Celtics to a 111-109 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats and into second place in the Eastern Conference.

The Bobcats, fighting for the final playoff spot in the conference, blew leads in the last 30 seconds of the fourth quarter and both overtimes and fell 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago Bulls, who were idle. The Celtics moved a game ahead of Orlando, which lost to Toronto.

Paul Pierce led Boston with 32 points, Allen added 22 and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and nine assists. Gerald Wallace had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, and Boris Diaw scored 17 points.

After Allen’s go-ahead basket, Raja Bell took a jumper that just missed at the buzzer.

That’s also how the first overtime ended _ a 3-pointer by Allen with 12.4 seconds left that tied the game at 101, and a miss by Bell from the right corner.

The game was tied at 103 early in the second overtime before Wallace hit a layup and Allen made a 3-pointer for a 106-105 Boston lead. Raymond Felton put the Bobcats ahead with a jumper, then Pierce gave the Celtics a 108-107 lead by converting an offensive rebound.

Emeka Okafor’s short bank shot with 46 seconds to play put the Bobcats ahead for the last time, 109-108. Allen then air-balled a 3-point shot, but Felton missed and Boston’s Eddie House rebounded with 11.3 seconds left, setting up Allen’s final shot.

The Bobcats let another lead slip away when the Celtics sent the game into overtime tied at 93 by scoring the last eight points of the fourth quarter. They had a chance to win when Pierce inbounded the ball to Rondo with 3.6 seconds left, but Rondo missed a layup.

Boston, with Kevin Garnett sidelined for the third straight game (and 16th of the last 20) with a sore right knee, won for the seventh time in eight games. Charlotte’s winning streak ended at three.

The Bobcats also missed a chance for a rare double: beating both of the previous season’s NBA Finals opponents on consecutive nights. They won 94-84 on Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost the championship series 4-2 to the Celtics.

Trailing 62-53, the Bobcats used scrappy defense to take control in the third quarter. They went on a 21-3 run in a span of 9:41 to take a 74-65 on a dunk by Okafor with 54 seconds left in the quarter. It was one of his three dunks in that surge in which Wallace also scored eight points.

The Bobcats scored eight of the first 10 points in the fourth quarter to go ahead 85-73 on Felton’s driving basket with 8:48 remaining. Then Boston came back with a 10-4 surge and cut the lead to 89-83 on Rondo’s fastbreak layup with 4:15 left.

Notes: Charlotte began a stretch of six of its final eight regular-season games on the road. … Boston’s Tony Allen suited up for the first time since tearing a ligament in his left thumb on Feb. 11 but didn’t play.

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