Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 12/14

Game 1: Wednesday, December 14th
Game 2: Friday, March 3rd
Game 3: Sunday, March 19th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 12th

Pacers 98

(29-26, 11-17 away)

Celtics 99

(24-34, 17-13 home)

    7:30 PM ET, March 3, 2006

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    IND 29 26 23 2098
    BOS 26 26 29 1899

    Top Performers

    Ind: S. Jackson 20 Pts, 5 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Bos: P. Pierce 31 Pts, 4 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl

    Pierce scores 31, hits key shot as Celts beat Pacers

    BOSTON (AP) -- After he banked in the game-winning 3-pointer for the Boston Celtics on Friday night, Paul Pierce turned his hands upward to the heavens, seemingly surprising even himself. It was an homage to Michael Jordan's famous shoulder-shrug during Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals.

    "I remember when Mike hit all those threes against Portland," Pierce said. "And I just wanted to do it."

    While he didn't replicate Jordan's 35 points in the first half of Chicago's victory over Portland in '92, Pierce scored 12 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Celtics to a 99-98 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

    Pierce's 3-pointer with 39.2 seconds left in the game, and 4 seconds left on the shot clock, put the Celtics ahead for good, 99-96.

    "I just didn't want to foul him," said Jackson, who scored 20 points and was in Pierce's face on his 3-pointer. "I wanted to make him make a tough shot. I thought I did my job -- he just did his better."

    Fred Jones made a lay-up to cut the lead to one-point, but Stephen Jackson missed a jumper over Tony Allen's outstretched arm at the buzzer, giving the Celtics their sixth victory in nine tries after dropping six in a row.

    "We narrowed it down to Jackson and then Freddie Jones (who would take the last shot)," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "Tony got up into Jackson, which I thought was the right thing to do, and they had to shoot a fade-away shot."

    It was the fourth game in a row that Pierce netted better than 30 points and the 10th time in 11 games he's topped the 30-point mark.

    "The rim is looking bigger and bigger every game," Pierce said.

    Jones, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, tied the game at 94 with 1:34 remaining. But he missed the subsequent free throw that would have given the Pacers the lead.

    The Pacers also failed to grab the rebound after Pierce missed a jumper with 8.8 seconds left to play.

    Delonte West added 17 points and seven assists for the Celtics. Wally Szczerbiak, Ryan Gomes and Raef LaFrentz all scored in double figures for the Boston.

    Peja Stojakovic led the Pacers with 24 points.

    After trailing the entire second quarter and by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, the Celtics went on a 14-2 run to tie the game, 72-72, on a dunk by Greene.

    The Pacers shot 54 percent from the field in the first half to take a 55-52 lead into the half. Jackson led the way with 11 points.< ^Notes@: The Celtics won the last meeting between the two teams, 85-71. It was the fewest amount of points surrendered all season by the Celtics. On Friday, the Pacers eclipsed their point total from Dec. 14 with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter. ... Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley missed his 14th consecutive game with a sore right elbow.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 98 99
    FGM-FGA 35-68 (.515) 39-81 (.481)
    3PM-3PA 8-22 (.364) 7-16 (.438)
    FTM-FTA 20-25 (.800) 14-25 (.560)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 1-30 10-38
    Assists 24 27
    Turnovers 16 14
    Steals 2 8
    Blocks 5 2
    Fast Break Points 6 17
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (2/0) 23 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 12 7

    Top Performers

    Stephen Jackson Jackson
    Points: 20
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 31
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0