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Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scored 21 a piece, but that wasn’t enough to lift the sluggish Celtics over the Indiana Pacers, as they fell 97-83 Saturday night in Indianapolis. Danny Granger scored 21 for the Pacers, while Darren Collison and Paul George each had 17.
The Celtics shooting woes continued as they shot 38 percent from the field. The Pacers shot worse at 37 percent, but the Pacers’ hustle and defensive activity is what hurt the Celtics’ most. The Pacers out-rebounded the Celtics 52-45. The Pacers had more steals and more blocks than the Celtics. The Pacers also forced more turnovers and shot more free throws than the Celtics did.
Paul Pierce had his best scoring outing in several games, but it was another category he led the Celtics in that was fateful. Pierce led the Celtics in turnovers with 6 on a night when the team turned it over 18 times as a group.
Pierce was not the only Celtics that struggled with aspects of his game. Rajon Rondo finished with a pedestrian 6 points and 9 assists. Kevin Garnett recorded just 5 rebounds. Ray Allen struggled to get open shots and finished with a mere 7 points. Allen also struggled on defense against the younger, more agile guards of the Pacers.
The pinacle of Allen’s defensive struggles came at the 4:30 mark in the 4th quarter when Paul George drove past him to an empty lane en route to a thunderous dunk. George’s dunk put the Pacers up by 18 and signified the exclamation point to the Pacers’ victory. The Pacers led by as many as 20 in the final minutes of the 4th quarter.
The loss was the Celtics’ second double digit loss to the Pacers in the last 8 days as they lost to them at home last Friday, 87-74.
If there was one bright spot for the Celtics, it was the play of rookie E’Twaun Moore. In his Indiana homecoming, Moore scored 7 points and recorded 3 assists and 2 steals in 20 minutes of action. Moore’s extended minutes were due to Keyon Dooling sitting a second straight game with a hyper-extended knee. It was also a homecoming for fellow Purdue product JaJuan Johnson, who saw limited action in brief stints in both halfs.
The Celtics look to rebound (quite literally) Monday night when they host Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder back in Boston.