Kenny Anderson made plenty of game-winning shots in his basketball lifetime before last night, but he didn't remember stealing a victory with a steal.
"I probably haven't," he said after knocking the ball away from Jason Kidd with 5.9 seconds left to preserve the Celtics' 91-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Boston.
"I was just trying to stay in front of him. Harass him--no easy passes," said Anderson, who had three steals, double his season average. "I can move my feet with the best of them. But it's just the desire to want to do it [play pressure defense], night in and night out."
Tony Battie made a jumper from the lane with 15.9 seconds left to give Boston an 89-88 lead. After two timeouts, Kidd brought the ball down the floor, but Anderson tipped away a pass and scrambled for the loose ball.
"He was gambling," Kidd said. "He figured we were going to the left side and jumped out and got his hand on it. It was a good play."
Anderson was fouled with 4.5 seconds left, giving Boston the ball out of bounds. Adrian Griffin was fouled on the inbound pass, and he made both free throws to make it 91-88.
Cliff Robinson scored 37 points for Phoenix, but had only one basket in the fourth quarter. Penny Hardaway added 18 for the Suns and Kidd had 14 assists and 12 rebounds--but only two points.
Paul Pierce scored 31 for Boston, which is 16-6 at home and 4-17 on the road this season.
* NUGGETS 104, ROCKETS 98: Denver ended an 11-game losing streak to visiting Houston as Ron Mercer scored 24 points and Nick Van Exel had 21.
Steve Francis led Houston with 27 points--21 in the second half--and 10 assists. He also had nine rebounds, meaning he barely missed reaching a triple-double for the second straight night.
"Basically, the difference was in our defense," said Nuggets Coach Dan Issel, referring to his team's 122-115 loss in Houston on Jan. 20, when the Rockets had six players in double figures.
"Instead of trapping Francis and rotating defensively, we let Nick and Chris [Herren] guard Francis by themselves," Issel said. "When you try to trap him, you just open up the floor. I know that Francis got 27 points, but he had to take 25 shots to get them. And we didn't let anybody else have a big night."
Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon scored seven points and moved ahead of former Nugget Alex English into 10th place on the NBA career scoring list. Olajuwon has scored 25,616 points.
* RAPTORS 108, HEAT 93: Vince Carter scored 23 points and Tracy McGrady had 20 to help Toronto cruise against visiting Miami.
Antonio Davis added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Doug Christie had 15 points and five assists. The Raptors won their third in a row following a three-game losing streak.
Alonzo Mourning scored 26 points for the Heat, which is 11-11 since opening the season 14-4.
McGrady, 20, has been the subject of recent trade rumors, but Coach Butch Carter says he is not available.
* KINGS 102, BULLS 90: Chris Webber scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds, Vlade Divac had 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Jason Williams added 19 points and nine assists as Sacramento won in Chicago.
Chicago rookie forward Elton Brand scored 30 points and had 18 rebounds, both career highs, but it wasn't enough as the Kings scored the final nine points over the last 3:20.
* HAWKS 98, KNICKS 96: Isaiah Rider made two free throws with eight seconds left in overtime and Atlanta, helped by Allan Houston's key miss from the foul line, held off visiting New York.
The Knicks trailed 98-95 when Houston, who led New York with 22 points, was fouled on a three-point attempt with three seconds remaining.
Houston made the first free throw, but missed the second. He missed the third one intentionally, but the Hawks got the rebound.
* LAKERS 117. BUCKS 89: With Shaquille O'Neal scoring 26 of his 30 points in the first half, host Los Angeles rolled over visiting Milwaukee and ended its only two-game losing streak of the season.
The Bucks were hurt by poor shooting. Starting with 7:21 left in the third, they missed 19 consecutive shots and were outscored 35-9.