Celtics extend franchise-record skid

Monday, February 12th 2007, 6:27 am
By: News On 6

The Boston Celtics are in a record-breaking rut that has shaken their confidence and damaged the image of a once-proud franchise.

``You can feel it in the locker room, each loss definitely hurts,'' Paul Pierce said. ``These guys are going to keep playing hard. We just need to get it out of our head.''

Easier said than done, especially when you've lost a franchise-record 18 consecutive games. The latest loss came Sunday when Ricky Davis' jumper from the corner with 0.2 seconds remaining lifted the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 109-107 victory.

``It is tough, the guys played so hard and deserve to win,'' said Pierce, who scored 29 points. ``We did everything we could. Down the stretch, they made the last play.''

The Celtics' previous franchise low was 13 straight losses in 1993-94 and 1996-97. They've blown past that mark, and haven't won since beating Memphis on Jan. 5.

The Utah Jazz also lost 18 straight in 1982 and seven teams have lost 19 games in a row. The Celtics still have a ways to go to get to the NBA record of 24 straight losses by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a streak that spanned the end of the 1981-82 season and start of the 1982-83 season.

In other NBA games, it was: Chicago 116, Phoenix 103; Seattle 114, Sacramento 103; Cleveland 99, the Los Angeles Lakers 90; Miami 100, San Antonio 85; Indiana 94, the Los Angeles Clippers 80; Portland 94, Washington 73; Dallas 106, Philadelphia 89; and Atlanta 106, Golden State 105.

At Minneapolis, the Celtics led by 10 points in the first half and 107-105 with 1:17 to play after Pierce fed Al Jefferson for a dunk.

But Kevin Garnett tied it with two free throws, then got a steal on the defensive end to give the Wolves a chance to win it with 3.6 seconds left.

Rookie Randy Foye blew past Delonte West into the lane, forcing Pierce to leave Davis wide open on the wing to prevent an easy layup.

``Paul had to help. Paul had no choice,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ``He is beating himself up in there, but he did the right thing. He had no choice but to help on that play.''

Davis, a former Celtic who spoke openly about not wanting to be the team that lets Boston snap its skid, had 18 of his 28 points in the third quarter.

``It was very important for us, pride-wise at least,'' Davis said for him and Mark Blount, also a former Celtic. ``It was a big game for us.''

Bulls 116, Suns 103

Kirk Hinrich scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, and Chicago snapped an eight-game losing streak in Phoenix and a three-game skid overall.

Chicago last beat the Suns on the road when the Michael Jordan-led Bulls did it on Nov. 20, 1996.

Phoenix played without Steve Nash, the league's two-time defending MVP, for the third consecutive game because of a sore right shoulder. The Suns also didn't have starter Boris Diaw because of back spasms.

The Suns were beaten by double digits for the first time this season.

SuperSonics 114, Kings 103

Ray Allen scored 25 points and made a key 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that helped Seattle win its second straight road game following a franchise-record 15-game skid away from home.

Sacramento cut a 22-point third-quarter deficit to two midway through the fourth quarter, but could never get over the hump.

Cavaliers 99, Lakers 90

At Cleveland, Sasha Pavlovic scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers shut down Kobe Bryant in the final minutes.

LeBron James had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but he deferred to Pavlovic and others down the stretch.

Bryant scored 36 points to lead the Lakers, but didn't score again in the final 3:39 after making two free throws to tie it at 81.

Heat 100, Spurs 85

At Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 18 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and the Heat held San Antonio without a field goal for more than 7 minutes down the stretch.

Wade hit seven of 10 shots in the final period, had a couple of highlight-quality blocks against Tony Parker midway through the fourth, and added seven assists as Miami beat San Antonio for the second time since Feb. 1, 2002.

Manu Ginobili had 26 points for the Spurs, who fell to 2-4 on their eight-game road trip.

Pacers 94, Clippers 80

At Indianapolis, Jermaine O'Neal scored 21 points and set an Indiana franchise record for career blocked shots as the Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak.

O'Neal had four blocked shots, giving him 1,113 for his career with the Pacers and breaking the franchise record of 1,111 by former Pacers center Rik Smits.

Cuttino Mobley had 23 points for Los Angeles.

Trail Blazers 94, Wizards 73

At Washington, Jarrett Jack and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points apiece and the Trail Blazers held Gilbert Arenas to nine points.

Arenas, who vowed to score 50 in retaliation for Portland coach Nate McMillan's involvement with Arenas being left off the U.S. national team last summer, shot 3-for-15 from the field, including 0-for-8 on 3-pointers.

Mavericks 106, 76ers 89

Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Mavericks built on their NBA-best 18-6 road record.

Jason Terry hit consecutive jumpers in the fourth quarter to help the Mavs stave off a surprising Sixers rally that saw them slice a 30-point deficit to eight. Nowitzki also added back-to-back baskets that pushed the lead back to 14.

Hawks 106, Warriors 105

Josh Smith scored 11 of his 29 points in Atlanta's big first quarter and finished with 10 rebounds, leading the Hawks to their fifth straight road victory.

Joe Johnson added 21 points and 11 assists as Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak in Oakland and dealt the Warriors only their ninth loss in 27 home games.