Pacers 99, Celtics 81

Preview | Box Score | Recap

BOSTON (AP)—The Indiana Pacers look like they’ve learned their lesson.

Reggie Miller scored 18 points and Al Harrington added 16 to lead the Pacers to their seventh straight win, 99-81 over the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

After nearly blowing two big leads in five days earlier this month, the Pacers opened a large third-quarter edge and coasted to their 10th win in 11 games.

Indiana had a 22-point, third-quarter lead at Denver on March 7 which the Nuggets sliced to two before the Pacers pulled out a 103-94 win. Five days earlier at Golden State, a 25-point advantage was cut to two before the Pacers won 96-88.

“That was the emphasis every timeout—to try and keep the lead and close the game out,” Harrington said. “Every timeout we were reminded what happened in Golden State. We were saying ‘We got ‘em down. Now we have to finish the game out.”’

Paul Pierce had 21 points for Boston, reaching 10,000 points in his 431st game—faster than anyone in Celtics history. Larry Bird reached the plateau in his 436th game.

“It’s great to be a part of history,” Pierce said.

Indiana started to take control with a 10-1 run over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the first half for a 48-39 lead. Ron Artest had seven points in the spurt.

The Pacers opened the second half by scoring 13 of the first 16 points to build their lead to 61-42 on Miller’s free throw. It was 72-50 on Harrington’s basket in the final minute of the quarter before Walter McCarty made a 3-pointer for Boston.

“We were trying to make it a point to take control,” Artest said. “We didn’t want to let those guys back into the game. We knew how dangerous Paul could be.”

Indiana, which has allowed the second-fewest points in the league, didn’t let up in the fourth. The closest the Celtics got was 16.

“We were active defensively all night,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

It was the second straight loss for Boston after six consecutive wins. The Celtics lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-109 on Wednesday.

“This is probably the hardest week that we’ve had all season,” Celtics coach John Carroll said. “(It) started with two wins and then we came back and played two teams you might see in the NBA Finals.”

Jonathan Bender added 16 points for the Pacers, who didn’t have a starter play more than 30 minutes.

“When our second unit goes in and plays the way that they did tonight it’s a great luxury, especially at this time of year,” Carlisle said. “We are able to play guys like Jermaine O’Neal 30 minutes and Ron Artest 28, that really helps.”

The loudest applause the rest of the game came when former Celtic Kenny Anderson checked in with 6:09 to play.

Boston’s Ricky Davis left the game with a sprained left ankle early in thefourth quarter.

Notes

Pierce recorded his 10,000th point on a 14-foot jumper with 8:08 left in the second quarter. He was given a standing ovation after the PA announcer acknowledged his accomplishment. … Artest was given a technical for blocking Davis’ shot after the whistle in the second quarter. … Carroll sneaked up behind Anderson about 90 minutes before the game and gave him a bear hug outside the locker rooms. Anderson turned and said: “I’m glad you got some wins.” Carroll responded with a smile and said: “You’re happy. How about me?” Anderson played for the Celtics while Carroll was an assistant. … Red Auerbach was in attendance. … The second-quarter clock was restarted afterthe officials mistakenly gave Indiana the ball out of bounds.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Indiana
A. Johnson A. Johnson
2-4,  4 Pts
4 Rebs, 6 Assists
 Boston
P. Pierce P. Pierce
7-19,  21 Pts
5 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists