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.

Clayborn beats out Seymour, Vrabel to enter Patriots Hall of Fame

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Clayborn beats out Seymour, Vrabel to enter Patriots Hall of Fame

Raymond Clayborn has been voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, beating out both Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour for the honor. The corner, who is tied for the franchise record for interceptions with Ty Law (36), will be the 26th person inducted to the Hall. 

Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowler (1983, 1985, 1986) during his 13-year Patriots career from 1977 through 1989. He was drafted by the Patriots in the first round (16th overall) out of Texas in 1977, and chipped in both in the secondary and as a kick returner. As a rookie in the return game, he averaged 31 yards per return and brought back three for touchdowns. 

Clayborn reacted to the news on Twitter soon after the announcement was made. 

"I was fortunate to be a season ticket holder during Raymond's entire Patriots career," Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "For the first half of his career, he teamed with Michael Haynes to form one of the best corner tandems in league history. Throughout his career, Raymond was a physical, shutdown corner.

"One of my favorite memories was watching the 1985 team advance to the Super Bowl after Raymond helped us break the Orange Bowl curse when he stymied future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino with a dominant performance against Pro Bowl receivers Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. Raymond had six passes defensed and an interception to help us claim our first conference title. It was the greatest upset victory in franchise history at the time and one the entire New England region celebrated. It is a well-deserved honor and I look forward to presenting him his hall of fame jacket."

Clayborn has been a finalist for each of the last four years but was not able to generate enough support in the annual online vote to beat out Ty Law (2014 inductee), Willie McGinest (2015) or Kevin Faulk (2016). Clayborn was eligible to be voted in by the senior committee since he's now been retired for 25 years, but he did not receive the requisite eight of 10 senior committee votes to be elected in that way. 

As it turns out, he didn't need to be. When Kraft called Clayborn with the news, he said Clayborn received over 40 percent of the vote to beat out the pair of three-time Super Bowl champs.