Indiana (9-17) at Boston (21-5)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Dec 22, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a shocking upset of the Boston Celtics last month, the Indiana Pacers were unable to parlay the victory into any sort of momentum, instead sinking to the bottom of the Central Division.

The Celtics, meanwhile, appear to have used the loss as somewhat of a wakeup call.

Boston will try to continue a dominant stretch of play and send the Pacers to a fourth straight defeat as the teams meet Tuesday night at the TD Garden.

Indiana scored more points than any other Celtics opponent this season in a 113-104 win Nov. 14 - Boston’s only loss in 13 road games.

The Pacers (9-17) are just 5-14 since, and they’ve dropped nine of their last 10 on the road. The Celtics (21-5) have followed the defeat by winning 12 of 13 and surging back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

They had cause to refocus again after a 98-97 home loss to Philadelphia on Friday that snapped an 11-game winning streak, but bounced back two days later with a 122-104 trouncing of Minnesota.

“We were ticked (off) and we were mad,” forward Kevin Garnett(notes) said Sunday. “It definitely is fuel for the next practice, if not the next game. You can’t win them all, but you can apply those things to the game, and I thought we came out focused.”

Paul Pierce(notes) matched a club record for most 3-pointers without a miss against the Timberwolves, making all six of his shots from beyond the arc as part of a 29-point night. He was one of seven Boston players to score in double figures, continuing a trend of balance for the veteran team.

No Celtic is averaging more than Pierce’s 18.1 points, but six are scoring at least 9.4 per game to maximize the efficiency of an offense that leads the league in field goal percentage (49.4).

Boston also allows an NBA-low 91.9 points per game, and Pierce may be especially motivated defensively after struggling to contain Indiana’s Dahntay Jones(notes) last month. Jones scored a season-high 25 points, and Pierce took the blame.

“Dahntay Jones went out and had one of his best nights, and I’m really going to take that one on the chin right there,” Pierce said.

Jones has struggled lately, averaging 6.6 points in his last five games. Indiana is also missing leading scorer Danny Granger(notes), who had a game-high 29 points against the Celtics last month, due to a foot injury.

Those issues have taken a toll. The Pacers shot a season-worst 35.6 percent from the field in an 84-81 home loss to Milwaukee on Monday night, their third straight defeat. Mike Dunleavy tried to carry the offensive load for Indiana but shot 2 of 17 and finished with a season-low four points.

“We lost this one, but we can’t dwell on it,” Pacers forward Troy Murphy(notes) said. “This game must be put behind us and we must move on to the next one.”

Dunleavy and Granger both missed the Pacers’ last visit to Boston, a 104-99 loss Feb. 27. Indiana has dropped seven of its last eight road matchups with the Celtics.

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Tuesday, Dec 22