The Boston Celtics had opened up the regular season looking like a team that was far long past its prime; coming out of the gate with record of 3-8 and had lost five games in a row. Things looked so bleak in Boston that Celtics Team President Danny Ainge told reporters that he would entertain offers of trading the “Big Three“and for the team to go into rebuilding mode.
Whether that was a wakeup call for the “Green Team” is known only to the players; however the transformation on the squad has been rather incredible since Ainge made his statement. With Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal all sidelined due to injury, the Celtics defeated the Indiana Pacers at the “New Garden” Friday night 94-87. It was the fourth straight victory for Boston, who have won five of their past six contests and are back to even with a record of 9-9.
Paul Pierce once again led the Celtics attack as he racked up a double-double including a game high 28 points while veteran Chris Wilcox came off the bench and provided 14 points in the contest. Danny Granger was the high scorer for Indiana with 21 points while Paul George added 16 points in the loss.
The Pacers would be on top for most of the opening period until Pierce popped a 25 foot trey with 5:30 remaining to tie the game at 11-11. Momentum stayed with the Celtics for the balance of the first and they held the upper hand at 23-17 at the end of the quarter. Boston would hold a double-digit advantage over Indiana for much of the second, however David West knocked down an outside jumper at the buzzer. As the two clubs went to their locker rooms at the half Boston led 42-34.
Indiana came back early in the third as Granger drove the lane putting the ball up and in and knotting up the contest at 46-46 with 8:30 left in the period. Their elation would not last for long as a Pierce layup with 6:20 left would complete an 11-0 Celtics run making it a 57-46 contest. E’Twaun Moore drove the lane with 25 seconds to play putting the rock in the hole and giving Boston a 71-61 lead at the end of the quarter. The Pacers never regained their rhythm in the final 12 minutes and the Celtics sent their fans home happy.
Pierce had a powerful performance with 28 points, 10 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in the Boston victory. Wilcox came off the bench with 14 points and 6 rebounds while Kevin Garnett had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Mickael Pietrus scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds while Brandon Bass added 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.
Granger scored 21 points, 6 rebounds and a steal while George contributed 16 points, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. West put up 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while center Roy Hibbert added 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. Boston now has a 9-9 record and will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday while Indiana now has a mark of 12-6 and head to Orlando as they will take on the Magic on Sunday.