Even when injured, the Celtics keep finding ways to win.
I had the pleasure of attending Sunday's matchup between the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics, and I had the extra pleasure of seeing the Celtics win their 13th straight game, a 99-88 victory over Indiana. The Celts improve to 22-4, while the Pacers fall to 12-14.
The game remained close for three quarters, as the Celtics failed to pull away from the Pacers, despite their only shooting 35.4 percent from the field. The Pacers were led by Danny Granger with 19 points, followed by Roy Hibbert, who posted a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Darren Collison rounded out the starters in double-digits with 15 points. With T.J. Ford and Mike Dunleavy coming off the bench to score 13 and 10 points, respectively, the Pacers were only down by four points with ten minutes to play.
The Celtics changed all that, on the back of a huge fourth quarter by Glen Davis (who finished with 18 points), and key defensive stops that allowed the Celtics to outscore the Pacers 30-23 in the final 12 minutes.
Paul Pierce led the way for the Green with a triple-double, with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists when all was said and done. Nate Robinson scored 18 points in his second game filling in for the injured Rajon Rondo, further showing that he is very capable of leading this team and facilitating as Rondo does, helping five players reach double-digits by the end of the afternoon.
Shaquille O'Neal finished with 11 points in his first game back from injury. Although he looked sluggish and out-of-sync at times, it appears as if a few games back in the rotation will be all that he needs to return to form.
The Celtics were hampered by 18 turnovers, compared to the Pacers' 13, and they had to deal with several questionable calls over the course of 48 minutes, including a technical foul against Pierce as well as a rare double-personal foul against Pierce and Indiana's Jeff Foster. I also got the general sense that a lot of ticky-tacky fouls were being called, which slowed the pace of the game and severely limited Boston's ability to set the pace at both ends of the court.
Boston's fourth quarter push was aided by officiating that went their way as well, including a technical against Mike Dunleavy with 9:30 left to play. The Celtics were able to convert defensive stops into points as Boston finally sealed the deal and gave the TD Garden crowd an early Christmas present.
All in all, the Celtics played a fairly solid game. Although they were plagued by sub-par offensive sequences and questionable officiating at times, they stepped up when they needed to and got the victory. They'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers at the Garden on Wednesday, December 22, looking for their 14th straight win.
As usual, the views from Loge 19, Row G were spectacular, giving me an up-close-and-personal look at the Celts for the second time this year. It also gave me the rare opportunity to snag some free memorabilia, in the form of one of Paul Pierce's sweatbands tossed into the crowd on the way off the court.