Pierce drilled a key 3-pointer in the midst of a late 10-0 run as the Boston Celtics rallied for a 93-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers to grab a commanding two games to none lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
After collecting 31 points and 11 rebounds in his postseason debut in the series opener, Pierce led six Celtics in double figures with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Antoine Walker also had a double-double with 24 and 10.
Boston got the ball back and got it to Pierce on the right wing, where he let fly with a deep 3-pointer over a baffled Aaron McKie that gave the Celtics the lead for good with 1:36 remaining. Pierce had been 3-of-12 from the floor before the fourth quarter.
"They gave me a little bit of daylight and no matter if I'm 0-for-20 or 0-for-30, you know I'm going to take it every single time," Pierce said. "I gave him a jab off the dribble and he sort of lost his balance. I saw a great opportunity to jump up and shoot the shot. And it was all in rhythm and it felt good."
"I thought I played pretty good defense on him," McKie said. "He threw it up there and it went in. Those are the kind of plays that happen when everything is going well for you."
Walter McCarty made 3-of-4 free throws to cap the spurt for an 87-81 advantage before Allen Iverson finally ended the drought for Philadelphia with two free throws. But Iverson missed a short bank shot with 36 seconds to go on the 76ers' next possession and Pierce converted a pair from the line to seal the victory for Boston.
Iverson led all scorers with 29 points but made just 11-of-30 shots to go with seven assists. Coleman had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds but Philadelphia faces elimination when it hosts Game Three on Sunday afternoon.
"I thought we did a lot of good things but give them credit," Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said. "Part of winning in the playoffs is guys making plays when they really matter most and they had people step up."
Pierce struggled from the floor, making just 6-of-19 shots but had no hesitation in drilling his pair of key jumpers down the stretch. It sent the sellout crowd of FleetCenter into a frenzy, a crowd that included former Celtic greats Bob Cousy and Bill Walton.
"I thought they did a superb job on him," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "And it was great that he got hot when he got hot and scored the points that he did."
Boston took a 69-61 lead into the fourth quarter and was ahead, 71-63 on a basket by Kenny Anderson with 11:15 to go. Iverson made two foul shots and McKie came alive with 10 straight points as Philadelphia took the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
McKie had a driving layup for a 72-71 lead with 7:47 remaining and added a three-point play for the 76ers' largest lead of the game. McKie came off the bench for 16 points.
"We tied the game up and we took the lead," McKie said. "From there, we have enough veteran guys where we should have been able to control the game and bring it home. Those guys were making shots all game long and they did it again when it counted."
Pierce was particularly off from beyond the arc as he made just 2-of-9 attempts. He compensated by making 11-of-13 foul shots and Walker came through by making 10-of-21 shots from the floor.
"Definitely don't think the series is over," Walker said. "We worked hard all year to put ourselves in a position to have homecourt advantage and we took advantage of it. That team is very tough and mentally strong. We understand that."
Iverson showed little signs of the hand injury that caused him to miss the final 14 games of the regular season. But he did settle for long jumpers rather than drive to the basket and managed to shoot 10 free throws, making only six.
"Everything started going right and then like a flip of a coin, everything just went wrong," Iverson said.
Virtually every Celtic used by O'Brien made a strong contribution as Battie and Anderson each scored 12 points. Eric Williams was the fifth starter in double figures with 10 points while McCarty came off the bench for 10 as well.
Philadelphia has lost six straight postseason games and has never won any playoff series after dropping the first two games.