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If it weren’t for Chicago blowing a 35 point 3rd quarter lead to Sacramento, we’d be talking more about this mini version. In a game of halves, Boston won an ugly one 103-94. With Kevin Garnett out with a thigh bruise, Indiana took advantage early and jumped out to an early lead.
Indiana opened up a 28-14 lead with 2:17 left in the 1st quarter; going 5/7 on threes while holding Boston three-less will do that. The Celtics closed the gap 28-21 at the end of the quarter, but sloppy play was the order of the day early; in the 1st, the Celtics had two lost ball and two bad pass turnovers, while the Pacers had two lost ball, three bad pass, and a shot clock violation turnover. Kendrick Perkins especially seemingly kept juggling balls he should have gotten a hold of.
Off the bench in the 2nd, Eddie House started 4/4 (2/2 on threes) to help cut the Pacers’ lead to 40-36, but the sloppy play resumed. The Pacers gradually pushed their lead back out to double digits. By the half, the Celtics trailed 15 points, 57-42. It is their largest halftime deficit of the season.
The second half, however, would belong to the Celtics. The Celtics would surge ahead in the 3rd, cutting the deficit back to four (66-62) on a Ray Allen three. On the ensuing possession, superb ball saving kept the ball from going out of bounds and being recovered by Indiana several times, keeping the ball with the Celtics. It was a shame that it had to end with a Kendrick Perkins’ technical foul for throwing an elbow under the basket…at least Indiana missed the free throw.
Some Paul Pierce free throws and another Ray Allen three gave the Celtics the lead once more, and after some jostling, the 3rd quarter ended in a 77-77 tie. Boston outscored Indiana 35-20 in the quarter.
More jockeying for position occurred throughout the 4th quarter, with the Celtics holding a three to five point lead much of the time. With 3:33 left, Paul Pierce connected with a three to give Boston a 93-86 lead, which pretty much spelled the end of the Pacers. From there on out, it became a game of clock management and fouls, which Boston was all too happy to play, leading to the 103-94 final in Boston’s final home game before a four game, week and a half road trip.
Allen led the Celtics in scoring, was perfect on free throws, and scored two crucial threes in the 3rd quarter which kept the Celtics in the game.
In 22:27 (the most active Celtics’ bench player of the day), Scal was 0/5, scoring his only two points on easy free throws.
“Yeah, that was, uh, phew.” – Doc Rivers’ reaction to open his post-game press conference.