Celtics Earn 40th Win of Season


Celtics Earn 40th Win of Season

INDIANAPOLIS - The Celtics became the first member of the NBA's 40-and-over club last night with a 104-97 victory over the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The Celtics (40-9), who have won four straight, improved to 18-5 on the road. They are 6-2 without the injured Kevin Garnett.

Paul Pierce scored a game-high 28 points, nailed 10 free throws, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished 5 assists. Ray Allen had 23 points, while center Leon Powe added 16 points and 9 rebounds.

These definitely aren't the Pacers of the Reggie Miller days.

They have the second-worst attendance in the NBA, no All-Star on their roster, and they entered the game with nine more losses than wins. And even with the NBA's hottest team in town, there were plenty of seats available. It was so quiet that the players could easily be heard on the floor.

The Celtics, however, were playing without Garnett (abdominal injury) for the eighth straight game and Kendrick Perkins (left shoulder strain) for the second straight game. Indiana was without star forward Jermaine O'Neal (left knee) and point guard Jamaal Tinsley (left knee).

The Celtics jumped out to a 10-0 lead after two straight 3-pointers by Allen. Indiana responded with an 18-6 run to take an 18-16 lead after a Travis Diener 3-pointer. The Pacers finished the first quarter with a 25-21 lead despite shooting 36.4 percent from the field. Allen had 12 points in the period on 5-of-7 shooting.

The Pacers opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to take a 32-21 lead after a Danny Granger lay-in. The Celtics trimmed Indiana's lead to 43-42 after a James Posey 3-pointer. A Pierce fast-break lay-in gave Boston a 46-45 lead with 1:57 left, and the Celtics ended the half with a 52-51 lead.

Allen had 14 points in the half, while Pierce had 10. The Celtics shot 42.5 percent and made 6 of 15 3-point attempts. The Pacers shot 44.2 percent and didn't have a player in double figures.

The Celtics took a 69-61 lead after a 3-pointer by Brian Scalabrine, and a 3-point play by Leon Powe gave Boston a 72-63 advantage.

The Celtics went up, 82-74, on another Pierce 3-pointer with 1:15 left in the third. Troy Murphy's lay-in, however, brought Indiana within 5 points (82-77) with just 6.7 seconds left in the third. Boston outscored Indiana, 31-27, in the third quarter.

The Celtics went to the free throw line on four straight possessions and took a 90-86 lead after two free throws by Powe with 7:20 left. A 3-pointer by Allen gave Boston a 93-86 lead, and after Powe's dunk with 5:31 left gave the Celtics a 95-88 advantage with 5:31 remaining, the nervous Pacers called a timeout seconds later.

The Pacers sliced it to 95-94 after a Williams lay-in with 3:08 left. But two Pierce free throws gave Boston a 99-94 lead with 1:32 remaining, and Pierce sealed the game by nailing a jumper with 52.1 seconds left.

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