Celtics Live Blog: C’s Beat Pacers, Move Into First-Place Tie Atop Eastern Conference


Celtics Live Blog: C's Beat Pacers, Move Into First-Place Tie Atop Eastern ConferenceFinal: Celtics 92, Pacers 80. The Celtics are back on track, beating the Pacers by double digits and moving back into a first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference.

Paul Pierce leads the way with 20 points, Jeff Green adds 19 off the bench, and Nenad Krstic adds 11 with seven rebounds. The C's improve to 3-0 this season against the Pacers.

Josh McRoberts comes off the bench with a double-double in a losing effort, 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Celtics have Thursday off; they'll hop on a plane heading southwest. They take on the Rockets and Hornets in a back-to-back this weekend.

Fourth quarter, 2:51, Celtics 88-74: This one's pretty much over. Danny Granger just lost his cool over a non-call of a loose ball foul by Delonte West, and he gets T'd up. Tyler Hansbrough has to restrain him from getting tossed out.

Stick a fork in the Pacers, they're done.

Fourth quarter, 5:52, Celtics 84-68: The best part of this blowout lead is that Doc Rivers has plenty of leeway to let Green, West and Murphy play together. He's enjoying getting a good look at that group.

The Pacers are starting to run out of steam offensively. A 16-point lead feels safe at this juncture.

Fourth quarter, 8:33, Celtics 80-66: The C's push the ball down low to Murphy again, and he finishes. The big man is starting to come to life in the low post.

The Garden is pumped up for this one. The Celtics are keeping their foot on the gas. They don't want this one slipping away.

Fourth quarter, 9:18, Celtics 78-64: Doc Rivers is getting a good, long look at his complete second unit to open the fourth quarter. They've looked pretty solid so far, with Glen Davis, Troy Murphy and Delonte West all packing a little offensive punch. The C's remain up by double digits.

End of third quarter, Celtics 74-60: The Celtics were already threatening to make this a runaway before Carlos Arroyo's buzzer-beater. That just rubs salt in the Pacers' wounds.

Paul Pierce dishes to Arroyo on the final possession, who drains a 3 at the buzzer. The C's open their lead from 11 to 14. Pierce has a big hug for Arroyo as the two head back to the bench.

Pierce now has 20 points and five assists, a solid night for the captain so far.

If the C's reserves can string together a few defensive stops in this fourth quarter, they should be well on their way to a nice win.

Third quarter, 2:56, Celtics 65-58: Josh McRoberts has snuck up on the Celtics with a double-double off the bench for Indiana. He's got 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Doc Rivers is once again going big in the third quarter, replacing Ray Allen with Jeff Green. How can he not? Between McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster, the Pacers just have too many big bodies. Doc has to fight size with size.

Third quarter, 5:56, Celtics 61-50: Who needs Glen Davis in there taking charges? The Celtics have Nenad Krstic in there doing it all himself.

Krstic takes a hard offensive foul from Tyler Hansbrough. The Celtics are catching all the breaks now. Their lead is in double digits, and the momentum's all theirs.

Third quarter, 7:29, Celtics 56-50: Rajon Rondo just made an incredible entry pass to set Kevin Garnett up for a monster dunk. What a play.

It's hard to know what to make of Rondo's performance. So far tonight, he's got zero points, zero rebounds and eight assists. Is he still considered slumping? Yes and no. It'd be nice to see him get some shots up, but as long as he keeps running the offense efficiently, he's doing his job.

Third quarter, 10:09, Celtics 50-42: Danny Granger pulls up and settles for a surprising 3-point jumper; the C's quickly take the rebound away and set Paul Pierce up for a driving layup. He gets fouled.

If Pierce can remain the aggressor throughout this second half, the Pacers don't have a chance. He's doing his job so far.

Halftime, Celtics 47-40: Between a Jeff Green scoring barrage to open the second quarter and a firestorm of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce 3s to close it, the Celtics are now in firm control of this ballgame as they head to the locker room at halftime.

Green has a game-high 17 points off the bench, Pierce has 10, and Allen has six off of a pair of treys. Rajon Rondo adds six assists, and Nenad Krstic five rebounds.

Josh McRoberts leads the Pacers with 11 points off the bench.

Second quarter, 2:35, Celtics 42-31: Make it three straight trifectas — Ray, Pierce and then Ray again. That's a 13-2 run for the Celtics in the second quarter.

When you combine great ball movement with great pure shooters, you get a combo that's pretty much impossible to stop. The Pacers are starting to figure that out.

Second quarter, 3:33, Celtics 36-29: Ray Allen drills a 3, and the C's are now on a 7-0 run. They've seized control of this ballgame.

Ray's been in a bit of a slump these last couple weeks, but he's busting out of it now.

Second quarter, 5:45, Celtics 26-25: Jeff Green nails a 3 to put the Celtics back in front. Green now has 12 points off the bench — 4-for-6 from the field, 1-for-1 from long distance and 1-for-2 from the line.

The Big Three are all still watching this one from the bench. The C's are scoring anyway, and that's a very encouraging sign.

Second quarter, 8:21, Pacers 23-18: This has been a really slow second quarter for both teams. Nearly four minutes have gone by, and we're tied 3-3.

It's hard to chalk that up to solid defensive effort. Looks more like sloppy execution on offense, bad shots, and a couple unlucky bounces for both sides.

The Celtics aren't getting much scoring punch out of this second unit. West, Davis and Green are the three stars of this bench, and the three are all still learning to play together.

Second quarter, 9:21, Pacers 21-18: Troy Murphy is in the game, getting some minutes at center, and he's getting destroyed by his former Pacer teammates on the glass.

Josh McRoberts has four rebounds, and Tyler Hansbrough three. Murphy has one, according to the official scorer. I don't remember seeing it.

Murphy's got to be more physical out there. He's really struggling.

End of first quarter, Pacers 20-15: Delonte West is officially back, as he enters the game for the final seconds of the first quarter in place of Paul Pierce. He gets a warm ovation from the TD Garden faithful.

Unfortunately for West and the Celtics, though, they're buried in an early hole. Danny Granger and Paul Pierce each have five points, and the Pacers are overpowering the C's early.

Still plenty of time for the guys in green to turn this around.

First quarter, 2:36, Pacers 17-13: Doc Rivers is going with a rather big lineup, playing Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, Jeff Green and Paul Pierce all together with Rajon Rondo. So far it's working — this unit is moving the ball well and getting good looks.

Davis and Green each have two points off the bench. The Celtics have closed the Pacers' lead from seven down to four.

First quarter, 5:20, Pacers 14-7: Nenad Krstic has three rebounds already, a solid start for him. All his teammates combined have precisely zero.

It's an 8-3 advantage on the glass early for Indiana. We'll see if Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce has anything to say about that.

First quarter, 5:56, Pacers 14-7: Tyler Hansbrough is the last of the Pacers' starting five to get on the scoreboard. It's a seven-point Indiana lead, and it's a total team effort.

There are a lot of holes in the Celtics' defense early. This is troubling.

First quarter, 9:44, Pacers 6-4: It didn't take long for Kevin Garnett and Tyler Hansbrough to start going at it. KG gives Psycho T a hard shove away from the ball, trying to push off him and establish post position. He gets whistled, and he's not happy about it.

Those two were bound to clash at least a little. They're both energetic, borderline-crazy players with short fuses.

By the way, the Pacers are on a 6-0 run.

First quarter, 11:40, Celtics 2-0: The ballgame just started, but it's never too early to pose for a poster. Paul Pierce just drove to the rim and brutalized Roy Hibbert.

The captain has been dunking up a storm these last few weeks. What's gotten into him? He doesn't look even close to 33 years old these days.

7:20 p.m.: The positive injury news continues to flow in. Not only is Delonte West playing tonight, but Shaquille O'Neal is getting shots up in practice. The C's are getting closer and closer to full strength.

One big, big key to this postseason run will be having at least one O'Neal — either Shaquille or Jermaine — healthy. Doc Rivers would love both, of course, but he can't be too greedy.

Tipoff from the Garden coming in a few minutes.

5:45 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where Delonte West is expected to play as the C's return home to play the Indiana Pacers.

West has been out since Feb. 26 with a badly sprained right ankle, but he's taken two weeks to rehab from the injury, and he's targeted Wednesday night for his return.

West's comeback should really bolster the C's bench, which could use a versatile third guard. Maybe now, Ray Allen can sneak in an extra couple minutes of rest as he gears up for the playoffs.

8 a.m.: Just 17 games stand now between the Celtics and the end of the NBA regular season. The playoff race is really getting tough, and even the ever-confident C's are feeling the heat.

Well, no. They're actually feeling the Bulls.

Over the last 48 hours, the tables have turned in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics lost on Monday night to the Nets 88-79, and Chicago then bulldozed the Wizards on Tuesday, 98-79. The C's entered the week a half-game up in the East race; they're now a half-game back.

The stakes are getting higher every day.

The Celtics will once again be playing for a share of the top spot when they take the court Wednesday night. The C's host the Indiana Pacers, who just beat the Knicks in back-to-back games and are now 12-11 under new interim coach Frank Vogel. At the moment, they stand to sneak into the East playoffs with the No. 8 seed.

The Celtics got Glen Davis back from a sore knee on Sunday evening; on Wednesday, they'll see another key bench guy return from an injury. Delonte West is over his sprained ankle and expects to play against the Pacers.

Doc Rivers' focus remains the same — he wants to get his guys healthy, keep them healthy, and guide them as they find their rhythm for the playoffs. He's running out of time for that.

Boston is 2-0 against Indiana this season. Meeting No. 3 tips off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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