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Pierce's huge second half puts Pacers in 3-1 hole

4/28/2003

BOSTON (AP) -- The 24-second clock was winding down as Paul Pierce dribbled calmly in place, talking trash to defender Al Harrington.

"He said, 'I hope you're ready, because I'm ready to bring
it,''' Harrington recalled.

Bring it he did.

Pierce made a 3-pointer over the taller Harrington with 3.6
seconds left in the third quarter of Boston's 102-92 win over the
Pacers on Sunday, giving him 21 of his 37 points in that period.

The Celtics lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven playoff series, which
resumes Tuesday in Indiana.

"We don't want to prolong the series,'' Pierce said. "We don't
want to give them any breathing room.''

The basket put Boston ahead 73-62 as Pierce scored the last 11
points of the quarter, which began with Indiana leading 48-36.

Pierce couldn't remember what he said to Harrington as the two
stared each other down.

"I was caught up in the moment,'' Pierce said. "That's what
playoff basketball is all about, two guys competing at the highest
level.''

And Sunday was Pierce's day.

His 32 points in the second half set a team playoff record for
one half. The old mark of 30 was set by John Havlicek on April 1,
1973 and matched by Larry Bird on April 30, 1985.

"In the first half I was really passive, trying to get others
involved,'' Pierce said. "Then I hit two or three in a row and I
kind of fed off the crowd. The adrenaline got going.''

In Game 1 in Indiana, Pierce had 21 points in the fourth quarter
as the Celtics came back from a 13-point deficit in the last 7{
minutes for a 103-100 win.

"He had the ability to take over (Sunday) because we started
getting defensive stops,'' Boston coach Jim O'Brien said. "If you
don't and you walk the ball up, then they have three people on
Paul.''

The Pacers used various tactics to harass Pierce -- from a taller
player jumping at him on long shots to double-teaming when he went
inside -- but couldn't stop him. They fouled him four times in the
third quarter and he sank all seven shots.

"We couldn't get him under control,'' Indiana coach Isiah
Thomas said. "He's a shotmaker and he made shots. I don't think
(Ron) Artest could have been any closer to him'' on defense.

Jermaine O'Neal's 25 points and 19 rebounds were enough for the
Pacers, who looked poised to even the series after a strong first
half.

"We just tried to get the ball into Jermaine the whole time,
and that does not work,'' Artest said.

Reggie Miller, 0-for-7 from the field in the third game, was
1-for-3 in 17 minutes Sunday with his only basket, a 3-pointer,
coming with 42 seconds left.

"Hopefully, in the next couple of days I can find my rhythm,''
he said. "I still feel I can compete at a high level.''

The Pacers scored the first four points if the third quarter for
a 52-36 lead, but the Celtics outscored them 37-10 the rest of the
period.

Indiana cut the margin to 81-76 on Brad Miller's layup with 5:34
left in the game. But the Pacers came no closer as Antoine Walker
hit two straight baskets for an 85-76 lead.

Indiana fouled the Celtics six times in the last minute, and
Boston made 10 of 12 free throws. Pierce hit five of them and had
11 points in the fourth quarter.

Tony Delk had 21 points for Boston, and Walker added 17. For
Indiana, Brad Miller scored 21 and Jamaal Tinsley had 13 assists.

After Indiana took its 52-36 lead early in the third, Boston
scored the next 15 points -- starting with Walter McCarty's
3-pointer and ending with Pierce's field goal that gave him eight
points in the run.

That made it 52-51 with 7:10 left in the third. The Pacers
extended that to 58-53 before Boston scored the next nine points --
seven by Walker and two by Pierce -- for a 62-58 lead.

Baskets by O'Neal and Harrington tied the game with 3:13 to go
in the third. Pierce then scored the last 11 points of the period.

O'Neal had an outstanding first half with 12 points, 11
rebounds, four blocks and one steal. Celtics shooters went
12-for-41 (29.3 percent).

Pierce and Walker combined for 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting in
the half.

The Celtics did cut the lead to 40-35 on Pierce's long jumper
with 4:17 left in the second quarter. But the Pacers outscored them
8-1 the rest of the half.

O'Neal reached a double-double with 3:40 left in the first half
when he got his 10th rebound. He already had 10 points.

Game notes
Indiana had just four field goals in the third quarter
after a making two field goals during the third quarter Thursday.
... McCarty started his second straight game after coming off the
bench in the first two games of the series. He started just eight
games during the regular season. ... Boston missed its first seven
shots. ... The Celtics are 45-17 against Indiana in Boston.