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The trouble against the Hawks hopped the plane with Boston as the Celtics lost consecutive games for the first time this season, losing to the Indiana Pacers 113-104.
You could tell it wouldn’t be the prettiest game when all five Pacer starters scored within the game’s first three and a half minutes. Kevin Garnett and Danny Granger led the way, each jumping out to an early scoring edge for their teams. It was a back and forth performance (biggest leads: Celtics 3 Pacers 5), with the Celtics’ first lead coming with 3:19 left in the 1st on Shelden Willams’ free throws. The 1st quarter battle would end with the Celtics up 27-26.
More of the same would be featured in the 2nd, though towards the end the Celtics would surge ahead, taking a 61-52 lead despite yet another Rasheed Wallace technical foul (for arguing a foul call in which Wallace barely contacted his man). Boston dominated 1st half free throw percentage (10/10 vs. 12/15) while Indiana was better from beyond the arc (6/11 vs. 1/4). The Celtics would also learn from Atlanta and hold a 29-13 rebounding advantage in the half.
The fun really started getting underway in the 3rd, when with 10:55 left, a Pacers shot went in, but didn’t come out; the net curled up and the ball remained stuck as if the bottom of the peach basket hadn’t been cut out yet. The Pacers later reclaimed the lead (81-79) with 38.9 seconds left, and led 84-79 at the end of the quarter.
The Celtics took the lead in the fourth quarter again, but quick technical fouls on Kendrick Perkins and Doc Rivers helped the Pacers push the lead back out. More back and forth action ensued, and the game ended on a bit of a funny note when, with 59.6 seconds left, Ray Allen’s three wedged itself between the rim and backboard, forcing a jump ball at half court.
The Celtics loss places the Hawks in the top seed in the East, and gives the Celtics their first consecutive regular season losses since March 15 and 17 (at Milwaukee and Chicago respectively).
I’m tempted to give it to Kendrick Perkins for a game-leading 13 rebounds, but Allen’s Celtics-leading 24 points is too much to ignore. He also led Boston in playing time and hit two of their three threes.
Jones and Granger combined for 54 points. Enough said.
“Granger has really been struggling from three-land this season, so I think the C’s would love it if the majority of his shots came from the perimeter.” – Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com, as the game began, on Indiana’s Danny Granger. Granger shot 6/9 from deep; boy was D’Amico wrong.