Celtics bounce back, hold off Pacers

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Celtics bounce back, hold off Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS We've seen from time to time the Boston Celtics come in and save the day.

Saturday night was one of those times as the C's second unit gave the Celtics a nice cushion to play with in the first half, and the starters like Paul Pierce took care of business in the second half in Boston's 86-72 victory.

With the win, Boston (31-24) snapped a two-game losing skid and will go into Sunday's game against Philadelphia in first place in the Atlantic.

For Indiana (34-22), the loss snapped a four-game winning streak.

Boston went into the half Saturday night leading by double digits, similar to what they did against Chicago on Thursday night. But the second half brought about a Celtics slump against the Bulls, and ultimately a loss.

You can bet that was a message drilled into the Celtics players at the half.

To their credit, Boston showed no signs of letting up in the third quarter as Indiana missed five of its first six shots from the field.

Still, the C's couldn't quite pull away like they would have wanted to, courtesy of some poor shooting of their own.

Not surprisingly, the Pacers managed to get Boston's lead down to single digits.

But to the C's credit, they did just enough to still maintain a comfortable lead, 59-51, going into the fourth.

Just as Paul Pierce carried the C's in the third when the Pacers tried to mount a comeback, it was Rajon Rondo doing yet another masterful job of managing the game and getting all his teammates great looks at the basket. And then there was Kevin Garnett getting it done in the fourth as well, despite being in foul trouble.

His play down the stretch was a nice compliment to the strong performance in the first half by his backup, Greg Stiemsma.

A number of Boston backups played well in the first half, but Stiemsma's play was instrumental in the C's setting a defensive tone that propelled them to a comfortable lead for most of the night.

And as the half ended, he was on pace for his first career triple-double with 10 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. He didn't score another point in the second half, but he did finish with a career-high nine rebounds.

Stiemsma wasn't the only backup burying the Pacers in the first half.

Sasha Pavlovic, who has teeter-tottered in and out of the C's rotation all season, was on his game from the start.

He had eight points in the first half which included a buzzer-beating jumper to end the first quarter.

And then there's the new guy to the second unit, Ray Allen.

Coming off the bench for the second straight game - and sixth time in his career - Allen shook off some early shooting woes to tally 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.

While Boston's bench did its share of scoring in the first half, it was their defense that really set the tone, as Indiana fell behind by as many as 17 points in large part because they missed their first 11 shots from the field in the second.

However, Indiana rallied with a 7-0 spurt that cut Boston's lead to 10 with 2:35 to play in the half. From there, the two went back and fourth with the half ending with the C's up by 10 points.

Thomas (groin) out Wednesday vs. Magic

Thomas (groin) out Wednesday vs. Magic

The Boston Celtics are used to this playing without a key starter thing, so tonight’s game at Orlando won’t be all that different than most of their games this season.
 
Isaiah Thomas will not play tonight against the Magic due to a right groin injury he suffered in Monday’s 107-106 loss at Houston.
 
Thomas flew back to Boston Tuesday night.
 
Head coach Brad Stevens told reporters he is leaning towards having Marcus Smart, who filled in earlier for an injured Jae Crowder, start in place of Thomas.
 
The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Rockets game, but Thomas continued to play on as he knocked down a 3-point shot just moments after he first began grimacing while holding the groin.
 
Following the loss, Thomas acknowledged the injury did bother him for the rest of the game as he finished with 20 points on 7-for-18 shooting.
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” Thomas told reporters. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who was named to his first all-star team last season, has been even more dynamic offensively this year.
 
He leads the Celtics with a career-high 26 points per game and has been ranked among the NBA’s top 10 scorers most of this season.
 
It is too soon to tell if the injury will sideline him for one game, or whether he’ll be out for an extended period of time.

 

Wednesday, Dec. 7: Rangers in trouble?

Wednesday, Dec. 7: Rangers in trouble?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while ready for the Chris Sale era to begin with the Red Sox in a 1975 throwback uniform at Fenway’s opening day.

*Larry Brooks says that the New York Rangers are in “deep trouble” despite all of the goals that they’re scoring, and here’s why.

*The New York Islanders are playing with fire when it comes to John Tavares potentially leaving if they can’t find a running mate for him.

*Good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector about Kris Russell defying the analytical critics with his work for the Edmonton Oilers.

*Scary scene with the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks where Taylor Hall knocked out Philip Larsen with a hit, and then touched a brawl where the unconscious Larsen was kicked in the head a couple of times.

*Here’s some very good news about former B’s forward Craig Cunningham, who has begun communicating with his AHL teammates through Facetime calls and is alert, joking and sounding like somebody that’s starting to make a slow recovery from whatever mysterious thing caused him to collapse prior to a Roadrunners game.

*Flyers D-man Shayne Gostisbehere has made such a splash with the Broad Street Bullies that he’s got a “Ghost Bear” beer named after him.

*For something completely different: The first trailer for "Spider Man: Homecoming" is going to be shown during Jimmy Kimmel, and it’s looking pretty cool in this snippet.