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Pacers fall for sixth straight time as Miller hits air

BOSTON (AP) -- For the Indiana Pacers, consecutive loss No. 6
ended with an airball by Reggie Miller.

Walter McCarty hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24.9 seconds
remaining, and the Boston Celtics extended the Pacers' longest
winless streak in 10 years with a 71-69 victory Wednesday night.

After McCarty's 3-pointer gave Boston a 69-67 lead, Jermaine
O'Neal, who led the Pacers with 31 points and 13 rebounds, missed
two free throws with 10.2 seconds left. In the final 10 seconds,
Paul Pierce and McCarty each converted one free throw before Miller
shot an airball at the buzzer despite a wide-open look.

Miller missed three 3-pointers in the final quarter and had only
nine points.

"We had every opportunity to win this game,'' Miller said. "We
made big shots, but when it came to the biggest one, McCarty hit a
three and I shot an airball.''

The last time the Pacers lost six straight was Feb, 1993. They
have lost nine of 13 overall.

"As a league, everyone is kind of struggling,'' Pacers coach
Isiah Thomas said. "No one is playing exceptional basketball, but
we still believe we're a good team. We are still only a half-game
out of first place.''

Antoine Walker led Boston with 18, Pierce had 16 and Tony Delk
added 14 points and nine rebounds.

"I said before the game, I don't care how many games they have
lost in a row,'' Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "You are playing
one of the best teams in the East, and they have so many weapons
that it makes it so difficult to beat them.''

Ron Artest missed the game for Indiana after being suspended for
the third time this season, this time by head coach Isiah Thomas.

After trailing 54-48 with 2:42 remaining in the third, the
Celtics went on an 11-0 run featuring seven points by Pierce. The
Pacers went 6:20 without scoring before O'Neal hit a pair of free
throws to cut the lead to 59-56. O'Neal's basket with 6:42
remaining in the fourth snapped an eight-minute drought without a
field goal.

Walker's mid-range jumper with 3:17 remaining gave Boston a
38-29 lead, its biggest of the first half. He led all scorers with
11, while Pierce, who was in foul trouble for most of the half,
missed his only shot attempt and had 2 at the break.

After falling behind 10-2, McCarty hit a pair of 3-pointers to
cap a 13-0 run with 4:12 remaining in the first. The Pacers had 10
turnovers and shot 25 percent after one, but only trailed 21-14.

J.R. Bremer made his 21st start for Boston, but was 0-for-7 from
the field and is 3-for-20 in the last three games.

Game notes
Pierce had only seven points through three quarters. ...
The Celtics are 4-3 in their last seven home games. ... O'Neal
leads the Eastern Conference with 31 double-doubles. ... Jamaal
Tinsley returned to the Pacers lineup after missing one game for
personal reasons. ... McCarty has hit 24 of 42 shots in the last
five games.

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