End of game, Celtics win 94-87: As usual, Paul Pierce's fingerprints were all over the Celtics' victory. Pierce had 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, all team highs, as the Celtics beat Indiana for their fourth consecutive win.
The Celtics evened their season record at 9-9.
Pierce and the Celtics were able to earn the win despite the Pacers shooting 97 percent from the free throw line. Indiana's atrocious 1-for-19 mark from 3-point range played a huge role in that.
Fourth quarter, :34.1, Celtics 90-83: Pietrus knocked the ball out George's hands on a drive, and the refs went to the video and called it a flagrant foul. In replays, it looked pretty innocent.
George's reaction appeared to be what raised the referees' attention.
Pietrus also made a hand gesture that was called taunting.
Granger knocked down the technical free throw, and George followed by hitting both his foul shots. The Pacers get the ball with a chance to make it a two-possession game.
Fourth quarter, 4:09, Celtics 88-78: Granger missed a free throw, the first time any Indiana player missed from the line. The Pacers hit their first 26 attempts.
Fourth quarter, 5:39, Celtics 84-75: The Pacers' run extended to 10-0 until Pietrus hit a corner 3 to put the Celtics back up by nine and momentarily halt the threat.
This game is not over by either team's perspective.
Fourth quarter, 6:57, Celtics 81-73: Eight straight points by Indiana narrowed the score a bit and Rivers wanted to talk it over to make sure this was as close as it got.
With Garnett out, the Pacers showed no fear going to the hoop. Hibbert scored a ferocious dunk, Granger got a third-chance layup and George went out on the break and earned two free throws.
West finished the burst with a dunk to bring Indiana within eight points.
The Pacers are a perfect 24-24 from the free throw line, while the Celtics have attempted just 11 freebies and hit only five.
Fourth quarter, 8:39, Celtics 81-65: With Pierce on the bench for a much-needed rest, the Celtics actually added to their lead over the Pacers.
A Hibbert layup was all that kept the Celtics' 10-2 run from being 10-0. Garnett was the only player to score more than once during that stretch, with a circus bank shot and two free throws.
Sasha Pavlovic scored on a reverse on a backdoor cut and Daniels finished with a dunk on the break. Pierce's play the last two nights has gotten the attention, but the Celtics' turnaround has been the work of more than one man.
End of third quarter, Celtics 71-61: Twice Pierce used 3-pointers to stretch Boston's lead to a dozen, but those weren't even the biggest plays he made in the third quarter.
Pierce, who scored 17 points in the period, went to the parquet to steal the ball from Collison and fed Wilcox for a dunk that gave the Celtics a 69-57 lead. Wilcox looked as strong as he has all season and enters the fourth quarter with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Third quarter, 6:08, Celtics 57-46: Bass picked up his fourth personal foul. Wilcox will have to come back in the game and dunk a few more times.
Third quarter, 6:51, Celtics 55-46: Just when it looked like the third quarter might become the Granger show, Pierce seized control back for the Celtics.
Granger scored six points in the first 3:16 and his fastbreak layup tied the score at 46-46. Pierce answered with a 3, then set up Bradley for a backdoor layup. After a long possession, Pierce scored on a driving left-handed layup.
For those keeping score at home, that was three straight possessions in which Pierce either scored or assisted.
A short jumper by Garnett put the Celtics up nine and forced Vogel to ask for a time out.
Third quarter, 10:02, Celtics 44-42: Granger was sharp out of the break, scoring two straight buckets to open the second half, and help the Pacers cut the Celtics' lead to two points.
Bass hit a jumper for the Celtics, but Indiana responded with two free throws by Hansbrough and a short jumper by West. The Pacers do not look ready to shrivel the way the Magic did the last two games.
Haltime, Celtics 42-35: Pacers coach Frank Vogel must have really not liked what he saw to call a time out eight seconds before the half. Pietrus was uncovered on an inbounds and drained a wide-open 3, and Vogel wanted to respond with a set play.
The play garnered two points, but bet the house that it wasn't two points the way Vogel drew it up. West knocked down a contested jump shot as the first half expired to get the Pacers within single digits heading into the locker room.
Here's the good, the bad and the so-so.
The Good: Chris Wilcox was all over the court in the first half. He not only led the Celtics with 10 points and tied Kevin Garnett for the team lead with six rebounds, he did admirable work defending the Pacers' big men. … Brandon Bass' shot is working. In his third start of the season, the LSU product scored eight first-half points and had three rebounds and a blocked shot in 20 minutes of work. Bass and Pietrus share the team lead in scoring among Boston's starters with eight apiece. … Dahntay Jones gave the flat Pacers something to rally around. In less than eight minutes, Jones scored five points on 2-of-3 shooting and hit his only free throw.
The Bad: Sprained ankle aside, Roy Hibbert cannot solve the Celtics' post defense. With two points on 1-for-7 shooting and two turnovers in the first half, Hibbert may be on his way to another forgettable performance against the Celtics.
The So-so: Danny Granger's offensive rhythm is noticeably better than it was in the earlier meetings with the C's, and he had nine points on 3-for-6 shooting in the first half. Paul Pierce was able to trouble Granger defensively, however, despite giving up almost three inches. … Pierce might give Rajon Rondo a run for his money at the point. Pierce had trouble finding his shot in 16 minutes on the floor, hitting just three of his 11 shots, but he handed out six assists and had two steals with just one turnover. (The Celtics as a team had just six turnovers in the first half, and Avery Bradley had zero.)
Second quarter, 2:19, Celtics 37-30: The second game in two nights clearly has the Celtics somewhat fatigued. Pierce was short on a layup and Wilcox was not able to get to a defensive rebound that Pietrus tracked down before being fouled by Tyler Hansbrough. So far, it hasn't really affected the Celtics, though.
A tip-in by George pulled Indiana within seven, while the Pacers got good news that Hibbert may return with a slightly sprained ankle.
Second quarter, 4:48, Celtics 34-24: Pierce showed hustle by tracking down a miss by Wilcox and converting the layup. The play might have been costly for Indiana and not just because it puts the Pacers 10 points in the hole.
Hibbert stayed down for a long time holding his ankle or foot after the play, and the Pacers took a time out to help Hibbert to the bench. The Georgetown product is a huge part of what the Pacers do offensively and defensively, and a serious injury to him would have serious repercussions.
Second quarter, 6:07, Celtics 32-34: Bass, who knocked down two jumpers in the first quarter and added another early in the second, showed a bit of athleticism with a double-pump layup around West. The Pacers have had just one field goal by a player other than Jones in the second quarter.
Second quarter, 6:22, Celtics 30-24: Bass and Garnett have spent a lot of this game matched up against bigger players. The 6-foot-9 Bass will be matched up with the 6-10 West, while Garnett spent most of his playing time in the first quarter covering the 7-2 Hibbert.
Wilcox provided energy on both ends of the floor, but the 6-10 veteran needed a rest after 11 minutes of persistent play.
Second quarter, 8:59, Celtics 27-19: Dahntay Jones scored a tough layup in traffic for the Pacers, who finally brought a 10-0 Celtics run to a close.
Picking up where E'Twaun Moore left off Thursday, Marquis Daniels and Wilcox gave the C's some unlikely scoring. Daniels made a turnaround jumper in the lane and Wilcox added another dunk.
End of first quarter, Celtics 23-17: What did this guy wearing the No. 44 jersey do with the real Chris Wilcox?
Wilcox, who seems to have spent more time hurt than on the court since signing a free-agent deal with the Celtics during the offseason, hit all three of his shots in the first quarter to finish the first 12 minutes with six points and three rebounds in 7:11. His post-up fadeaway jumper was the most impressive of the bunch.
With O'Neal on the bench and Garnett playing limited minutes, Boston needs Wilcox's defensive presence against the Pacers.
First quarter, 2:30, Celtics 19-17: The Celtics chose the right time to play arguably their best on offense and defense. Against one of the conference's top teams, the Celtics had just two turnovers with Bradley leading the show and Pierce played strong defense on Granger. The Pacers forward score seven points, but three of those came in transition on a switch and Pierce made a nice play to knock away the ball when Granger appeared to have a clear path for a layup.
Chris Wilcox came off the bench for Garnett and gave the Celtics good minutes in the post, hitting a layup off a pick and roll with Pierce and knocking down a short bank shot, also assisted by Pierce.
First quarter, 6:08, Pacers 11-8: Danny Granger played worse in the first dozen games of so than he had at any time in his career, but the All-Star forward has started to round into form.
Granger got off to a good start with five points in the first five minutes, including a corner 3-pointer. In the first two meetings with the Celtics, Granger scored 15 points and 21 points, respectively, but he did so shooting 3-for-14 in the first game and 1-for-6 from downtown in the second game. He went 2-for-2 in the early going Friday.
Pietrus got off to the hottest start for the Celtics, nailing two long jumpers.
Hibbert continued to sport the clear plastic mask to shield a broken nose he suffered against the Lakers, even though Metta World Peace said he didn't believe Hibbert really broke his nose. Yeah, that's the type of injury guys love to fake.
7:30 p.m.: Winners of three of their last four games, the Pacers will try to derail the Celtics, winners of four of their last five.
The Pacers (12-5) are tied for the second seed in the Eastern Conference in the loss column. The Celtics (8-9) can work back to .500 with a victory.
Tip-off is about 10 minutes away.
7:15 p.m.: The Celtics will run with a patchwork backcourt again on Friday, but one that is certainly feeling better about itself after Thursday's stirring comeback.
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are out again as Avery Bradley and Mickael Pietrus start together in Boston's backcourt for the second straight game.
Although the many absences didn't prevent the Celtics from winning two consecutive games over the Magic, at least one could be problematic against Indiana. Center Jermaine O'Neal, who has given the C's two solid defensive efforts this season against the Pacers and Roy Hibbert, is sidelined with lingering knee soreness after colliding with Hedo Turkoglu on Monday.
O'Neal is 1-for-9 shooting for seven total points in two games against the Pacers, but he is averaging 9.5 rebounds and four blocked shots per game against the Pacers. Most of his help and positional contributions on defense didn't show up in the boxscore.
Kevin Garnett, who defended Dwight Howard like a fiend Thursday, will have to pick up the slack on Hibbert, who could be motivated by the Pacers' decision not to offer him a long-term contract extension before Wednesday's deadline.
The starting lineups are below.
8 a.m.: Paul Pierce and the surely weary Celtics return to Boston on Friday to take on the Pacers, looking to build off Thursday's comeback against the Magic.
The Celtics have looked outmatched in two previous meetings with the Pacers, who are battling for position atop the Eastern Conference. That was before this week, however, when the team appeared to turn a corner in winning three straight games.
The shorthanded Celtics will hope to get a few of their injured members back Thursday as the veteran-laden squad works its way into shape. Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.