Indiana wins series 4-0 (Game 4 of 4)

Indiana wins series 4-0

Game 1: Saturday, April 17th
Game 2: Tuesday, April 20th
Game 3: Friday, April 23rd
Game 4: Sunday, April 25th

Pacers 90

(61-21, 27-14 away)

Celtics 75

(36-46, 19-22 home)

    1:00 PM ET, April 25, 2004

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    IND 21 25 24 2090
    BOS 25 13 14 2375

    Top Performers

    Indiana: M. World Peace 22 Pts, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Boston: P. Pierce 27 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    Pacers get plenty of time to rest for East semis

    BOSTON (AP) -- Larry Bird was back in Boston for a familiar result: A playoff victory.

    Bird watched from the stands while Ron Artest scored 22 points to help Indiana beat Boston 90-75 on Sunday for a sweep in the best-of-seven series. Jermaine O'Neal scored 18 to help Indiana earn its first victory in a playoff series after three consecutive first-round losses.

    "This was one of our goals: to get out of the first round. And we did that," said Rick Carlisle, whom Bird picked to coach the Pacers after the Celtics Hall of Famer took over as president of basketball operations. "We're the first team to advance, so we're very proud of that."

    The Pacers will have more than a week to rest before the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they will play the winner of the first-round series between Miami and New Orleans. The Heat lead 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

    Reggie Miller was 4-for-8 from 3-point range for 14 points, hitting a pair of 3s early in the third quarter to help the Pacers open a 17-point lead.

    "The younger players on this team feel obligated to go out and get a ring for Reggie," the 25-year-old O'Neal said of the team's 38-year-old elder statesman. "We know he doesn't have many more attempts left."

    Paul Pierce had 27 points and 11 rebounds and Mark Blount had 21 and 13 for the Celtics, who went away meekly for the third time in the series.

    "I really have a bad taste in my mouth," Pierce said, noting that the Celtics were swept in the second round last year by New Jersey. "This is really not a fun feeling."

    The loss -- just the third four-game sweep in Celtics playoff history -- could signal the end for interim coach John Carroll, who took over when Jim O'Brien resigned Jan. 27. Carroll lost 12 of his first 13 games but managed to eek out the last playoff spot in the East with a record that was 10 games under .500.

    "I've been a coach my whole life, and when you are a coach you understand that coaching is a very precarious job," Carroll said. "I hope I have represented this franchise and the city of Boston over the last 40 games and the players in the way they should be."

    Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge declined to comment on the coaching situation but conceded that it was a difficult atmosphere for Carroll to work in. Taking over a team that went to the conference semifinals last year, Ainge traded Antoine Walker nine days before the season and made several other roster-shaking trades that led O'Brien to walk out midseason.

    Asked if he could understand why players would be upset, Ainge said, "Absolutely."

    "I can understand that. I can't care," he said. "I do care, obviously. But I can't let a player's frustrations make my decisions for me."

    The attendance was announced at 16,389 -- about 1,000 short of a sellout -- but it appeared to be closer to 12,000 and many fewer were left by the time it ended; more than half of the luxury suites were dark. Those who stayed home or left early were able to catch the Red Sox and Yankees wrapping up their series in New York.

    Indiana hadn't won a playoff series since they went to the NBA Finals in 2000, when Bird was coach. Bird stepped down after the season, but he took over the basketball operations this year and he might have been just the good luck charm they needed.

    Playing in Boston against Bird's old team, the Pacers fell behind 33-26 in the second quarter before scoring eight straight points to take the lead. After a basket by Boston, Indiana scored another seven in a row and led 46-38 at the half.

    Blount's layup was the first basket of the third quarter, but Miller hit a 3-pointer to make it 49-40 and added another a few minutes later to cap a 13-2 run that put the game away. In all, the Pacers scored 33 of 42 points over 13:10 to turn a seven-point Celtics lead into a 59-42 Indiana rout.

    Game notes

    Pierce was called for a technical foul with 6:03 left in the first quarter for pushing Artest away. Although it didn't appear to be a violent shove, Artest fell to the court and lingered there. ... Chucky Atkins hurt his right ankle in the final minute of the first quarter. He returned for the second quarter but was not back for the second half. ... Pierce later took a flop when Jonathan Bender landed on him as he set up for a jumper. ... Ainge returned to Boston from Europe at about noon. He was not seen during the game but he had a lengthy postgame talk with reporters. Ainge missed Games 2 and 3 for a scouting trip in Europe.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 75
    FGM-FGA 33-73 (.452) 27-67 (.403)
    3PM-3PA 7-17 (.412) 5-17 (.294)
    FTM-FTA 17-22 (.773) 16-18 (.889)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-31 10-46
    Assists 19 18
    Turnovers 13 26
    Steals 19 5
    Blocks 5 5
    Fast Break Points 4 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 19 (2/0)

    Top Performers

    Metta World Peace World Peace
    Points: 22
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 27
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2