Pierce scored 31 points and made two key baskets in the fourth
quarter to lead the Boston Celtics to a 98-93 victory over Indiana
on Friday night, ending the Pacers' five-game winning streak.
Boston blew a 14-point lead and fell behind by five, 91-86,
before scoring 12 of the game's last 14 points -- stopping Miller
twice in the final 30 seconds to win.
"You know they're going to make a run. They're a good team,''
Pierce said. "What we had to do was make a stand.''
Al Harrington had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Jermaine O'Neal
had 22 and nine for the Pacers, who had won nine of their previous
Antoine Walker had 31 points and 10 rebounds, scoring his only
basket of the fourth quarter on a put-back of a miss by Pierce to
tie it at 91 with 2:16 left. Pierce gave Boston the lead again with
a high-arcing jumper and then made another jumper over Harrington
to make it 95-91 and force the Pacers to take a timeout with 1:14
"Those two shots were big,'' Harrington said. "I had my hands
up in his face. But that's why they pay him the big bucks, cause he
makes the big shots.''
O'Neal scored on a tip-in of Ron Artest's miss to put Indiana
within two. But Miller missed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc
with 28 seconds left; J.R. Bremer was fouled after getting the
rebound, and he made the second free throw to make it 96-93.
With 10.9 seconds left, Miller couldn't handle a pass and lost
the ball out of bounds.
"It's tough to ever see him with the basketball, but when they
need a 3, it's scary,'' Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "It was
very nice to also see it slip out of his hands there at the end.
"He's deadly. He's broken a lot of hearts with those 3s towards
the end of the game. But it didn't happen tonight.''
Miller did not score at all on Wednesday, taking just three
shots in Indiana's victory over Miami. He never got in a groove
against Boston, making just one basket on seven shots, but coach
Isiah Thomas wanted him in the game at the end because of his
history of making big shots.
"I'd rather not have to put Reggie in a situation like that all
the time,'' Thomas said. "It's a tough situation to live with
night in and night out.''
After Miller's turnover, Pierce got the inbounds pass from Eric
Williams under the basket and looped it over his head for the easy
layup to make it 98-93.
The Celtics led 77-63, with 3:23 left in the third quarter. But
Indiana went on a 9-2 run to end the third, then scored the first
10 points of the fourth, taking the lead on Ron Mercer's 15-footer
before Harrington added a pair of free throws to make it 82-79 with
8:59 to play.
The Celtics were without their newest signee, Grant
Long, who was in Detroit attending to personal matters. ...
Boston's Tony Delk played after missing the previous two games with
a sprained ankle. Tony Battie was out, and he said he wouldn't
practice for the rest of the season to save his sore right knee
from wear and tear. ... Kedrick Brown picked up four fouls in 10
minutes in the first half. ... Shammond Williams did not play while
healthy -- the first time this season that's happened.