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Celtics sink shots, Pacers in rough game

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2003

BOSTON The Boston Celtics got in the best shots and the Indiana Pacers kept missing as their physical series got rougher.

Amid a flurry of flagrant and technical fouls, Boston won 101-83 Thursday night for a 2-1 series lead as Paul Pierce's 21 points led six Celtics in double figures.

The Pacers' second-half shots kept clanging off the rim as they went without a field goal for a span of 14 minutes, 19 seconds. For the game, Reggie Miller went 0-for-7 and finished with five points.

We just did a good job defensively,'' Antoine Walker said. They were known throughout the season as being very physical. We're just trying to rise to the challenge.''

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday in Boston, where the Celtics are 44-17 against the Pacers.

If we get those same shots Sunday, I think we'll have a different story,'' Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said.

The Pacers went 8-for-31 after intermission, and had just two field goals in the second half until Erick Strickland scored with 4:09 left in the game. That drought enabled Boston to increase a 48-44 halftime lead to 75-58 going into the fourth quarter.

Jermaine O'Neal led Indiana with 21 points and 16 rebounds. In the second half, he missed the only shot he took, while Miller went 0-for 5.

I should have shot it more,'' said Miller, who was open for most of his attempts. It doesn't matter how many I take. It's how many I make.''

He wasn't involved in the physical play that resulted in Boston's Mark Blount and Indiana's Ron Artest being ejected in separate incidents, two flagrant fouls against the Celtics and five technicals against the Pacers.

In Game 1, Tony Battie, the Celtics' starting center, was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul against Artest.

That's the way playoff basketball is,'' Pierce said. The team that can keep their composure ... is the team that's going to prevail.''

Pierce had 12 rebounds and five assists despite playing only 33 minutes because of foul trouble. Walker had 17 points and Walter McCarty and Tony Delk had 14 each.

McCarty also played exceptional defense on O'Neal.

I was just trying to front O'Neal to keep him from getting the ball,'' he said. If he doesn't get the ball, he can't hurt us.''

Artest had 20 points and Ron Mercer added 12 for Indiana.

Sunday is a must win,'' Artest said. I don't think they are a very physical team, but they play hard.''

Boston extended its four-point halftime lead to 53-44 on a layup by Williams and a 3-pointer by Pierce. It was 65-57 before Boston scored the next 10 points.

McCarty hit a 3-pointer and a dunk, J.R. Bremer made a 3-pointer and Battie sank a layup. That made it 75-57, and Boston's lead ranged from 16 to 24 the rest of the way.

The second half, we usually get off to slow starts,'' Walker said. We've got to start to be the aggressor.''

Teammate Kenyon Martin outfought Anthony Mason for the rebound and tipped the ball to Rogers, who sank the shot from the top of the circle.

After calling timeout with 2 seconds left, Tim Thomas inbounded the ball to Gary Payton, whose 3-pointer to win it banged off the rim at the buzzer.

The Nets got 26 points from Jason Kidd and 23 from Martin as they took a 2-1 series lead.

With Garnett on the bench after fouling out early in overtime, the Timberwolves made seven free throws in the final 24.3 seconds of overtime to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Timberwolves, who have never won a postseason series, lead the three-time defending NBA champions 2-1.

Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Sunday at Staples Center, where the Lakers won their final 15 home games in the regular season. This, however, is the playoffs. And that streak means nothing now.

Gary Trent's two free throws his only points of the game gave the Timberwolves a 109-108 lead with 24.3 seconds left.

After Kobe Bryant missed a driving bank shot, Marc Jackson made two foul shots with 11.6 seconds left. Shaquille O'Neal's made one of two before Jackson added another free throw with 7.7 seconds to go.

Bryant missed a 3-pointer with about three seconds to play that could have tied the score, and Troy Hudson then made two free throws to complete the scoring.

Garnett, who had 33 points and 14 rebounds, fouled out in the opening 12 seconds of the overtime period on a highly questionable call one of several that went against the Timberwolves in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Hudson added 27 points, Wally Szczerbiak scored 13 and Jackson had 12.

Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points. O'Neal had 28 points and 17 rebounds and Derek Fisher scored 23, but none after the third quarter.

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