C's Know How to Finish, Move to 20-2

December 9, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS - There is one major reason the Celtics were able to tie the best start in franchise history last night.

They know how to finish.

Paul Pierce forced overtime with a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation and Ray Allen capped a 35-point night with some big hoops in the extra inning of a 122-117 victory over the Pacers. ``We stole the game tonight and we felt fortunate to do it,'' coach Doc Rivers said after the team's 12th straight win. ``I felt that us being together longer showed, and our execution in overtime was phenomenal. The calm of that when you have veterans was huge for us.''

Having lost in their other visit here this season, Conseco Fieldhouse was beginning to feel like Kryptonite Coliseum for the Celts. But they ruined onlooker Larry Bird's 52nd birthday by hitting 13-of-25 treys. That gave the Celts a 20-2 record, the same mark held by last year's team and the 1963-64 Shamrocks. Neither of those groups won their next game, meaning these lads have an opportunity to set their own standard on Thursday in Washington.

That chance looked to be done, however, when Kendrick Perkins missed two free throws with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Jarrett Jack hit a pair from the line to give Indiana a 105-102 lead with 14.4 seconds to go. It was looking even worse when Allen missed a quick 3 at the other end.

But little man Eddie House came up big on the boards, tracking down the rebound and finding an open Pierce up top for the tying 3. Jack missed on two chances from behind the arc for the win.
From there, the Celts seemed in control. Allen had seven of the team's 17 overtime points, and Kevin Garnett outrebounded the Pacers alone, 5-2.

``That's what good teams do,'' Pierce said. ``We try to find ways to win. It's not going to be pretty every night. But whenever you can find a way to win - especially with the way things were going tonight - we'll take it.'' Allen and Garnett hit jumpers and Rajon Rondo scored on a high-arching drive as the Celts took a three-point lead in OT. Jack hit 1-of-2 free throws with 1:13 left, but Allen then put a down payment on the win with a 3 from the top of the key at 42.9.

The C's lead moved to seven before Brian Scalabrine committed a dead-ball foul (one Jack free throw) and T.J. Ford hit a trey on the ensuing possession. But Pierce and Garnett ice it at the line.
Garnett finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds. ``It's funny,'' Rivers said. ``I was upset after the game because I didn't think Kevin got the ball enough. I thought he probably had six or eight points, and I look at the stat sheet and he was 17 and 20. He's the only guy in the league that can have a quiet 17 and 20. He does his job every night, doesn't really need the ball, scores on happenstance and in a way dominates the game quietly.''

Allen's work wasn't quiet at all. He tied his Celtics high for points, hitting 7-of-12 treys. ``Ray's just on fire,'' Rivers said. ``My body was feeling good,'' said Allen, who's hit 32-of-61 from behind the arc in his last eight games. ``The ball was feeling good leaving my hands.''

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