Indiana (48-16) at Boston (29-37)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 53° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Mar 12, 2004
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The streaking Indiana Pacers are obviously very comfortable playing on the road.

The Pacers look to improve the NBA’s best road record and extend their overall win streak to seven games when they visit the FleetCenter for a meeting with the Boston Celtics.

Indiana went undefeated on a recent four-game road trip, the Pacers’ first 4-0 trip since April 1994. They moved to 23-10 away from home and clinched a winning road record for just the third time since the franchise moved from the ABA to the NBA in 1977.

The Pacers, who secured a playoff berth with a win at Denver on Sunday, kept their streak going Tuesday as they returned home and posted a 94-84 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors.

Ron Artest played his fifth game since returning from thumb surgery and led Indiana with 23 points, while holding Raptors All-Star guard Vince Carter to seven points in the second half. Artest needed just 12 days to recover after having surgery Feb. 19 to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb.

“I was thinking he meant four weeks instead of six or seven,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “But he knew more about what he was talking about than we do.”

Artest’s performance helped Indiana overcome a poor shooting night from Jermaine O’Neal, who shot 7-of-24 from the field but finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds.

“I have to give my team a lot of credit,” O’Neal said. “It was a tough night for me, but we found a way to win. They kind of carried me.”

With a victory Friday, the Pacers will be in position to match a season-high eight-game win streak on Sunday, when they visit LeBron James and surprising Cleveland. The Cavaliers have jumped into the playoff hunt with five straight wins and nine in 11 games.

The Celtics won their season-high sixth straight Tuesday, 87-84 over the New York Knicks, but lost some momentum with Wednesday’s 117-109 home defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Paul Pierce scored 30 points and reserve Ricky Davis added 24, but Boston could not contain Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal, who had 28 points and 17 rebounds.

“We couldn’t get the stops when we needed,” Davis said. “It was tough in there to grab rebounds with Shaq.”

Chucky Atkins scored 19 points and Mark Blount pulled down 11 rebounds for Boston, which missed a chance to post its longest win streak in two years.

The Celtics are 14-19 at the FleetCenter and 15-18 away from home, making them the only team in the league with more wins on the road than on their home court.

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