End game, Pacers win 97-83: Johnson gets free on the break and throws down a dunk, getting a nice hand from the crowd. Cool moment for the Purdue product.
Apart from that, there are not many good things to say about the Celtics in this one. Jermaine O'Neal grabbed 12 rebounds, but the Celtics were outrebounded 57-45. Rajon Rondo had nine assists and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett tied for the game-high with 21 points, but the Celtics shot 39 percent from the field.
Danny Granger had 21 points for the Pacers to lead a balanced scoring attack that included 17 points each by Paul George and Darren Collison. Roy Hibbert had 10 rebounds while David West and Paul George each had eight rebounds.
The Celtics take on MVP candidate Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday at 8 p.m. That one should be… interesting.
Fourth quarter, 2:38, Pacers 86-77: Here comes Avery Bradley, E'Twaun Moore, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson to close things out for Boston. The Pacers counter with Lance Stephenson, Lou Amundson, Jeff Pendergraph, Dahntay Jones and A.J. Price.
The substitutions brought a monstrous roar from the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Fourth quarter, 4:24, Pacers 91-73: Paul George puts his stamp all over this game with a ridiculous two-handed dunk as the Celtics helplessly look on, and that just about settles it.
Fourth quarter, 8:34, Pacers 85-71: The problem with being a great outside shooting team is that when the shots aren't falling, there aren't a lot of alternate options.
The Celtics don't have a classic penetrator and none of their big men can still take the ball down low and score consistently in the post. As a result, the Celtics have nothing else to go to to accomodate for their .371 field goal percentage.
Bass, who is playing better than most of the Boston players, dropped a jump shot to make him 5-for-12 from the field. He can get the the rim on his first step, but he doesn't have enough versatility in his offensive game to carry the Celtics through droughts like this.
End third quarter, Pacers 82-67: The Pacers made the Celtics pay for virtually every turnover in the first three quarters. They scored 21 fastbreak points, helped in large part by Boston's 13 turnovers.
Third quarter, 1:18, Pacers 78-62: Granger is not having a good shooting night. He's just 7-for-16 from the floor, but he nailed a 3 to give the Pacers their largest lead at 78-60.
Garnett made a dent in that with a jumper off the glass, but there's another quarter of this stuff.
Third quarter, 3:23, Pacers 75-60: Showing some desperation, Allen tried a shifty move on a contested layup but got called on it.
Allen went up in traffic and extended his left hand to stave off Hibbert, but the ref blew the whistle on the offensive foul. Allen didn't try to argue.
This game is getting away from the Celtics, but fortunately for them most eyes are probably on a certain football game.
Collison keyed the latest Indiana run, scoring a long jump shot and a fastbreak layup before Granger collected an offensive rebound and hit a soft, short jumper to give the Pacers a 75-60 lead.
Third quarter, 7:38, Pacers 67-54: Collison drilled a 3 from the corner, and before the Celtics could blink they were back down by 13.
The Pacers are tough to beat at home. In fact, it hasn't happened yet this season and the Celtics will have to put together more than one impressive run to change that.
Third quarter, 9:32, Pacers 64-52: A jumper by Garnett briefly pulled the Celtics within eight points, but the Pacers simply seem too deep and too aggressive to give the Celtics a chance to make another late comeback.
It could always happen, because it almost always does. Indiana just looks like it will make that very difficult.
Halftime, Pacers 56-48: Garnett and Allen showed spunk by scoring in the final 32 seconds to erase a double-digit deficit, but the Pacers seem to be comfortable with allowing the Celtics to stay close enough without getting too close.
The Pacers shot a blistering 16-of-17 from the free throw line, which helped them build a lead despite the Celtics taking away their putback opportunities. The Celtics and Pacers each grabbed 23 rebounds in the first half, but the Celtics actually won the offensive rebounding battle 10-6.
Now the good, the bad and the so-so.
The Good: The Celtics were on the wrong end of Granger's resurgence. The traditionally reliable shooter is shooting a career-low .325 from the field, but he was 5-of-9 in 18:36 in the first half for 12 points. … Wingman Paul George went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to round out his 13-point, four-rebound first half. … After posting a strong second half Friday, Kevin Garnett played another solid 16:49 with 13 points and four rebounds. He shot only 6-for-13, but as a primarily spot-up jump shooter at this stage of his career, that's not bad for the Big Ticket.
The Bad: Mickael Pietrus is not shy, but he's also rusty. He went 1-of-4 from the field, all 3-pointers, while contributing only a personal foul. … Tyler Hansbrough plays his butt off, and he's a much better pro than most people give him credit for. That said, he is 0-for-3 with two rebounds in 11:53, although he does lead the game in obnoxious tantrums after getting called for a foul. He is 4-for-4 from the foul line to account for his scoring.
The So-so: Jermaine O'Neal is 0-for-3, but he's exhausted from his work on the glass, where he has six rebounds, and on Hibbert, who is 3-for-8 with two turnovers in 16:15.
Second quarter, 2:57, Pacers 47-38: The difference in the pace these teams want to play is noticeable. After every made shot by Boston — or missed shot, more often — the Pacers race back up the floor, pushing the tempo. After every Indiana basket, the Celtics saunter up the court, taking a good six seconds to get into their offensive set.
Not surprisingly, the Pacers got much easier looks during the second quarter. Hill scored five straight points on a set of free throws and a 3 to stretch the Pacers' lead to double digits for the first time at 43-32. Granger nailed a bank shot to give Indiana its largest lead at 45-32, and Hibbert answered a KG jumper with a layup to put the lead back at 13 points.
Pierce and Allen scored to lessen that lead, but the Pacers are growing more confident with every shot.
Second quarter, 5:50, Pacers 38-30: Pierce is having another horrid shooting night, but he is making a living at the line. The Celtics captain has missed three of his four field goals but is 7-for-8 from the foul line to give him nine points.
Still, the Celtics' shooting difficulties won't go away. Despite doing a good job of keeping the hard-working Pacers off the offensive glass, the Celtics shot just 30 percent in the first 18 minutes.
Second quarter, 8:57, Pacers 35-26: The beginning of the second quarter did not go quite as well for the Celtics.
The Pacers opened the quarter on a 6-2 run and a layup by Jeff Foster, assisted by backup point guard Lance Stephenson, gave the Pacers a nine-point lead. His and-one free throw made it 10.
End of first quarter, Pacers 29-24: Does anybody do a better job defensively on Hibber than O'Neal? JO's first-quarter stat line won't make anybody's eyeballs pop out of their heads, but in addition to his three points (on 3-of-4 foul shooting, missing his only field goal) and four rebounds, he's managed to keep Hibbert from controlling the post.
The 7-foot center gets great position in the post, making him a very effective scorer and passer, as well as offensive rebounder. In this game, he is 2-for-5 with four points and a single rebound, although he has handed out two assists.
The Celtics looked more aggressive on offense than they have been in more than a week, taking 22 shots in the first quarter. Their 24 first-quarter points were their most since Jan. 1 at Washington.
They even outrebounded the Pacers 12-11 in the first quarter.
First quarter, 2:21, Celtics 24-23: If Mickael Pietrus keeps shooting like this, Rivers is going to have an even tougher time keeping him off the floor.
Pietrus, who has wowed Rivers with his defensive energy, drained a 3 to give the Celtics a 24-19 lead. A bank shot by Rondo that tied the game at 19-19 and two free throws by Pierce made it possible.
The Pacers won't go away easily, though, and Hibbert showed off the versatility that makes him such a valuable big man by droppinga backdoor pass to a cutting Granger for a layup. Granger has struggled with his shot this season and a few layups might help get him going.
First quarter, 5:23, Pacers 17-16: Tyler Hansbrough entered the game for the Pacers showing off his new look. After leaving Monday's game with an eye injury, Hansbrough has worn goggles. They're not the rubber-framed type famously used by Horace Grant in the 1990s. Nope, they're the far dorkier Oakley-style goggles Amare Stoudemire favors.
This is Hansbrough's third game in the specs.
First quarter, 5:50, Pacers 15-14: The Celtics already are off to a better start than the last time these teams played. With 14 first-quarter points, they have matched their output from the entire first quarter against the Pacers at the TD Garden last Friday.
Even Indiana is shooting better than in the last meeting. The Pacers, who also scored 14 points last time they faced the C's, have 15 points.
First quarter, 6:33, Pacers 11-10: The Celtics actually outrebounded an opponent in the first six minutes, which has to be some sort of record.
The Celtics had six rebounds to Indiana's four as they took a 7-2 lead early on a Ray Allen layup on a fast break. But the Pacers moved into the lead on a 3-pointer by George and the teams alternated leads twice more.
First quarter, 10:53, Celtics 4-0: The Celtics got a rare first-quarter lead when Hibbert goaltended Rondo's layup attempt and Garnett put in a hook shot after Hibbert traveled.
O'Neal ended up getting the start, not Bass, as was listed in the pregame lineup. Rivers has said he will rotate the starting center depending on the matchup.
6:55 p.m.: The Celtics get another crack at a relentless offensive rebounding team. Lucky them.
Boston's struggles on the defensive glass have been well-documented. During their three-game losing streak, the Celtics have been outscored on second-chance points 60-19 and remain the worst rebounding team in the league. (The Clippers, who are equally anemic on the boards, are the only folks keeping the Celtics from occupying last place all by themselves.)
The Pacers are also 4-0 at home, while the Celtics are 1-3 away from TD Garden.
The facts on paper don't look good for the Celtics, but as we all know, games aren't played on paper. They're played on courts. Unfortunately for the Celtics, it won't be their own court, and that could spell bad news.
6:35 p.m.: If any of you plan on catching the first quarter and part of the second quarter before flipping over to that football game taking place in Foxboro, don't expect to see your typical high-flying NBA action.
This game pits two of the slowest-starting teams in the NBA against each other, with both playing the second leg of a back-to-back. The Celtics haven't topped 18 points in the first quarter in four games, and the Pacers fell behind by 16 on Friday before coming back to beat the Raptors.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, the Pacers bench has mostly compensated for the starters' sluggishness. George Hill, who was so good in place of Tony Parker with the Spurs two seasons ago, has played well of late as he grows comfortable after being traded to Indiana in June.
The Celtics will go with Brandon Bass in the starting lineup for the second straight game with a hobbled but healthy Jermaine O'Neal coming off the bench. Keyon Dooling is expected to miss the game with a sore right knee.
Here are the projected starters:
8 a.m.: The Celtics take another crack at snapping out of their recent funk when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
While this would probably be a sparsely attended game if it were held in Boston, where fans will be glued to their couches flipping between the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics, the Hoosier State can devote its full attention to its Pacers. At 8-3, Indiana is second in the Central Division and tied with Philadelphia and Orlando for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics (4-6) are wallowing in a three-game losing streak, all at home, and their concerns range from shooting to rebounding to fatigue.
Flip open your laptop and keep it open on the coffee table while you watch the Patriots or Bruins game and join us for updates and analysis during the game. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
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