The Celtics fell behind by 21 points in the first half last night against the Phoenix Suns before mounting a furious comeback led by Paul Pierce. However, the original hole was too big to completely climb out of, and Boston wound up losing the game, 102-94 at TD Banknorth Garden. Peter May says that even a Kobe Bryant-like performance from Paul Pierce (40 points, 33 in the second half) wasn’t enough to lead the Celtics all the way back. Mark Murphy notes that at the very least, Pierce put on a convincing case to Jerry Colangelo that he should be included in team USA discussions. Shalise Manza Young has Doc Rivers pointing to 16 first half turnovers which led to a lot of layups and three-pointers by Phoenix as the Celtics main downfall. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic holds that the Suns might’ve gotten a little bored after they breezed through the first half.

Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics just need time to develop the talent that they have assembled around Paul Pierce. In the meantime, Pierce will probably need more nights like he had last night. Pierce sounds like he’s with the program on this one. Buddy Thomas suggests that the Celtics should consider sitting Pierce in the closing moments of close games since he’s become prone to missing clutch free throws. Bulpett has Rivers and former Celtic Marcus Banks trading a few jabs in the press. May’s notebook and Young’s notebook each report on Delonte West somehow missing out on being selected for the sophomore team in the rookie challenge during All Star Weekend. Murphy’s notebook has Danny Ainge getting too close for comfort to an FSN camera. He also reports that Gerald Green could join the team for their two game swing through Florida this weekend.

Boston College also needed a second half comeback against the second ranked Duke Blue Devils, and came up just short, falling 83-81 at Conte Forum. Michael Vega has BC feeling a little shortchanged by the officials in this one. Rich Thompson and Lenny Megliola also report on a game in which Boston College certainly had its chances, but couldn’t stop J.J. Redick, who ended up with 28 points on the night, and Sheldon Williams, who had 21. Bob Ryan looks at big time college basketball coming to The Heights, and the stars coming out to see this first ever ACC League matchup between Boston College and Duke. Tony Massarotti has more on the big night at Conte Forum.

Bill Burt however, couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for this game, saying that no one cares about college basketball around here. Mark Blaudschun notes that Boston College once again came up short when it had a chance to make a statement on a national stage. Ryan notes that it was just another win in Boston for Mike Krzyzewski, who is now 22-1 in road games against BC, BU, Harvard and Northeastern. Vega’s notebook looks at BC’s Craig Smith being united with Duke’s Williams, as the two of them played for the US in the World University Games last summer.

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