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Celtics overcome cold start, sweep series with Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Tony Allen and the rest of the Boston
Celtics' backups found their range just when the Indiana Pacers
lost theirs.

Paul Pierce scored 22 points, and Allen had 11 of his
season-high 14 in the fourth quarter to help the Celtics to a
103-88 victory Sunday and a three-game sweep of the season series
with the Pacers.

Indiana shot 67 percent and led by 14 points in the opening
period, but the Pacers shot only 28 percent over the final three
periods.

"We were just trying to play through it," Allen said. "I was
going to do whatever I could, no matter what. When I'm out there
playing I have to give my all.

"The second unit, we were all talking on the bench, just saying
we need to go in there and bring some energy."

Al Jefferson added eight points and five rebounds in a reserve
role for Boston, and Kendrick Perkins had seven points, five
rebounds and three blocked shots. Overall, the Celtics reserves
outscored the Pacers bench 31-20.

"That was the difference in the game," Pierce said. "They
gave the starters a cushion at the start of the fourth quarter.
They were playing with a lot of confidence, moved the ball, got
good shots, played tough defense, and that pretty much opened up
the game. So the starters got back in and put it away."

Boston trailed by 12 after one quarter, but Pierce and rookie
Ryan Gomes had seven points each in the second period and the
Celtics tied it at 53 at the half.

A free throw by Indiana's Stephen Jackson tied the game for the
last time at 72 early in the fourth quarter, but Allen had seven
points, including two free throws after a flagrant foul on Jamaal
Tinsley, as Boston built its lead to 81-72 in the next 3 minutes.
The final score matched the Celtics' biggest lead of the game.

"Some of our guys were a little winded, a little tired," said
Celtics assistant Tony Brown, subbing for coach Doc Rivers, whose
father-in-law died over the weekend. "I want to commend our bench.
Most of them are all young guys, who came in and gave us a big
lift. ... They gave our starters a chance to sit on the bench, get
some extra minutes of rest and finish off the game.

"Tony Allen was the key guy in that group. He was aggressive,
he was attacking and played great defense down the stretch," Brown
said.

Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West added 16 points each for the
Celtics. Peja Stojakovic led Indiana with 16 points, and rookie
Danny Granger added 14.

The Pacers hit 11 of their first 12 shots and took a 24-13 lead
in the first 6 minutes. A basket by Szczerbiak and three by West
cut the lead to five, but Indiana continued its hot early shooting
and took its biggest lead at 36-22 on a 3-pointer by Tinsley.

The Pacers still led by 12 after a 3-pointer by Stojakovic early
in the second period before their shooting cooled for good.

"The key part of the game was the end of the second quarter,"
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "They did a great job finishing
plays and giving themselves a chance to win. ... We couldn't get
over the hump."

A basket by Pierce, two free throws by Gomes and a 3-pointer by
Pierce brought Boston to 53-51. Then, after a miss by Indiana's
Anthony Johnson, Gomes was fouled on a fast break and hit two more
free throws with 0.3 seconds left to tie it at the break.

Another basket by Pierce at the start of the third quarter gave
Boston its first lead of the game. Minutes later, a dunk by Pierce
pushed the Celtics' lead to 61-55, completing a 17-2 run spanning
the second and third periods.

"We had a great start, but we didn't keep it up," Granger
said. "We've got to be more consistent. ... I don't know exactly
what the answer is."

Game notes
The Celtics dedicated the win to Rivers. "We're going to
give this one to Doc, even though he's not here with us. We know
he's going through some tough times right now, but from the
coaching staff to the players, we want to send this out for him,"
Brown said. ... Pacers forward Austin Croshere did not play, the
20th game he's missed in the past 21 games, and will be out
indefinitely because of a concussion he suffered Jan. 31. ...
Indiana's 36 points in the first quarter were two off its season
high against Seattle in January. ... Boston has won four straight
against Indiana over two seasons, its longest streak against the
Pacers since it won six straight in 1987 and 1988. ... The Celtics
finished 1-3 on a four-game trip.