The point guard, out since Feb. 24 with a foot injury, passed
and defended like he had never been away to spark Indiana to a
90-85 win and a 3-2 lead in their playoff series Tuesday night.
"The way he played tonight was really key for us," Pacers
coach Rick Carlisle said. "We needed, I think, the spiritual lift
of having him out there."
Now, the Pacers can finish off the best-of-seven series Thursday
night on their own court.
A bruised left foot had kept Tinsley out of the last 29
regular-season games and the first four playoff games. He found out
he would play a few hours before Tuesday's game.
"He hurt us," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "He wasn't trying
to score. He just ran the team."
Tinsley had six points, seven assists and five steals in 28
minutes and kept the Celtics from employing a press because of his
ability to handle the ball better than his backup, Anthony Johnson.
Tinsley was at his best when the Celtics threatened down the
stretch after trailing by 15 with four minutes left in the third
A layup by Antoine Walker, returning from a one-game suspension
for pushing referee Tom Washington in Game 3, had cut the lead to
Then Tinsley assisted on Indiana's next two baskets, a 3-pointer
by Reggie Miller and a jumper by Jermaine O'Neal. Stephen Jackson's
3-pointer gave the Pacers an 85-80 lead, and Tinsley kept the
Celtics from coming back with two steals in the last two minutes.
"It was a big test for me," said Tinsley, who felt sore
afterward. "I just wanted the ball in my hands down the stretch,
knowing that there was a whole lot of pressure and I just wanted to
The Celtics, especially Paul Pierce, forced up shots and stopped
passing the ball.
"Both teams had focus. One team had better composure," Rivers
The Pacers were led by O'Neal with 19 points and 10 rebounds and
Jackson with 15 points. For Boston, Pierce scored 27 points but
committed six turnovers, and Ricky Davis has 19 points.
Road teams have won three of the five games in the series, and
the Celtics must win away from home to prolong their season.
"We worked so hard to get homecourt advantage the second half
of the season," said Walker, who finished with 10 points and seven
rebounds. "I need to be a little bit more effective down low for
this team to win."
The Celtics also must be more careful. They had 22 turnovers
that led to 27 of Indiana's 90 points. And they allowed the Pacers
to move the ball well, giving up 21 assists.
"The team that's going to win this series is the team that's
going to hold defensively," O'Neal said.
Indiana's defense was much better than it was in its worst
playoff loss ever, 110-79 in Game 4 on Saturday night, when the
Celtics hit 57 percent of their shots. On Tuesday, Boston made 45
percent of its shots and was less effective near the basket than it
had been in the previous game.
The Pacers took a 6-5 lead on O'Neal's dunk 3:17 into the game.
They built that to 13 points several times late in the half, the
last at 45-32, and led 50-42 at halftime.
Indiana took its biggest lead, 67-52 with 4:10 left in the third
With Indiana ahead 85-80, Pierce and Dale Davis traded free
throws and Marcus Banks cut the lead to 86-83 with a layup with 28
seconds remaining, and the Pacers got the last four points on two
free throws each by Johnson and Reggie Miller.
But it was the starting point guard, Tinsley, who made the
"J.T. was big for us," Jackson said. "We call him the head of
our monster. With him, we definitely run smoother."
Quarterback Tom Brady was one of several New England
Patriots at the game. Others included tight end Daniel Graham and
defensive lineman Ty Warren. ... Miller took just three shots in
the first half. Davis, Gary Payton and Delonte West took turns
guarding him throughout the game. ... Boston is 23-7 in seven-game
series that have been tied 2-2. ... Johnson played as Tinsley's
backup despite hurting his back Saturday night when he was hit
accidentally by teammate James Jones.