23-point loss worst in 261 playoff games


BOSTON (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers are so dominant that they keep
beating the Boston Celtics with their backups.

The Pacers won 108-85 Friday night, the biggest margin in a
lopsided series, to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven matchup
with a chance to complete the sweep Sunday on Boston's court.

Indiana did it with 58 points off its reserves, compared to 54
by Boston's starters. Substitutes Al Harrington and Jonathan Bender
led the Pacers with 19 points each. Three days earlier, Indiana won
103-90 behind a 43-11 advantage from its backups.

"We have to remain humble and go out and do the job Sunday,"
Harrington said.

The Pacers' 27-14 road record tied Minnesota for the NBA's best,
so remaining humble could be tough after they beat Boston by 16, 13
and 23 points.

It didn't help the eighth-seeded Celtics to return home and even
they acknowledge they're seriously overmatched by the top-seeded
Pacers who went 61-21 in the regular season while Boston went

"They're a much more talented team than us," said Paul Pierce,
who scored his playoff career low of nine points on 4-for-17
shooting. "We've got to somehow, some way, show some pride to come
back on Sunday."

Indiana played outstanding team defense, and outrebounded Boston
for the third straight game.

"Their bench just makes you marvel," Boston coach John Carroll

Despite the Pacers' domination, Jermaine O'Neal said they
weren't toying with the Celtics.

"We're just going out and playing our style of basketball," he
said. "Being 3-0 is a great opportunity for us but toying with a
professional team is hard to say."

It was the worst home playoff loss in the Celtics' history, a
span of 261 postseason games since 1948.

Ron Artest, who returned from a one-game suspension for leaving
the bench when Boston's Brandon Hunter threw O'Neal to the floor in
the opener, scored 15 points and played outstanding defense on
Pierce, who is 16-for-53 with 56 points in the series.

"As much as I'd like to think that we're preventing him from
making shots, we've been fortunate that he's missed a lot of ones
that he normally makes," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said.

Ricky Davis led Boston with 16 points as part of a bench that
scored 31.

"Whatever we seem to do, they seem to do better," Boston's
Chucky Atkins said.

The Celtics did have plenty of outstanding players at the game.
Unfortunately for Boston, they retired years ago and sat in the

During a timeout with 2:22 left in the third quarter and Indiana
leading 74-63, Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" was played over
the sound system as the midcourt scoreboard showed Celtics
broadcasters Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn and Cedric Maxwell and former
stars JoJo White, Robert Parish and Larry Bird.

"There is no way the Boston Celtics should be ever getting
swept," Pierce said. "This is one of the best franchises in all
of basketball."

Boston, which won the last of its 16 NBA titles with Bird and
Parish in 1986, also was swept by New Jersey in the second round
last year.

Bird, Indiana's president of basketball operations, stood up to
a loud ovation while Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciappara and Pacers
president Donnie Walsh sat on each side of him.

The Boston Red Sox also got a loud ovation when the score of
their game at Yankees Stadium, 6-0 in the fourth inning moments
after Bill Mueller's three-run homer, was shown on the scoreboard.

Celtics fans had little to cheer about the team's performance.

Boston still had a chance when it trailed 79-67 with 9:27 left
in the game. But Indiana went on a 15-2 run -- with substitutes
Bender scoring six points and Fred Jones adding five -- and took its
biggest lead, 105-79 with 53 seconds left.

The Celtics had cut a 53-40 halftime deficit to 53-46. Then the
Pacers went on a 9-2 run. Jamaal Tinsley hit a 3-pointer O'Neal
made a three-point play and Reggie Miller sank another 3-pointer.

That put the Pacers ahead 62-48 with 8:13 left in the third
quarter. With the lead down to 74-63, Anthony Johnson made a
3-pointer and O'Neal sank a jumper that ended the third quarter
with Indiana leading 79-63. O'Neal finished with 14 points.

Game notes
New England Patriots LB Rosevelt Colvin and OL Adrian Klemm
sat in the front row across from the Celtics' bench. Patriots S
Rodney Harrison also attended. ... Both Indiana coach Rick Carlisle
and guard Kenny Anderson played for the Celtics.