for this game

O'Neal and Pacers hand Celtics 12th straight loss

Jan 31, 2007 - 3:53 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The most storied franchise in the NBA is one step closer to a most sorry record.

The Boston Celtics scored just 26 points in the middle two periods and allowed the Indiana Pacers to shoot nearly 60 percent over the first three quarters en route to their 12th straight loss, 103-96.

Jamaal Tinsley scored a season-high 28 points and Jermaine O'Neal added 25 for the Pacers, who have won four of five.

"We started off slow, we finally got some opportunities in the second quarter to play better defense," O'Neal said. "We came out strong in the third on both ends. ... I think the second and third quarters may be the best we played all year."

Boston has an NBA-high 16 championships, including eight straight from 1959-66, but last won the crown in 1986. The franchise last lost 13 straight during the 1993-94 and 1996-97 seasons.

"We are playing hard, just not good enough," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "When you haven't won in 11 or 12 games now, your shots just get heavy. The guys are still playing hard. My job is to keep getting on these guys. We are all in this together. We just have to keep fighting."

Playing without injured star Paul Pierce (left foot) for a 20th straight game, Boston jumped to a 30-24 first-quarter lead before imploding. It made just 6-of-19 shots and committed seven turnovers in the second quarter as Indiana took a 52-43 lead at the half.

O'Neal sparked an early 13-2 run with five points and scored four more during an 11-3 burst that ended the half. Indiana shot 11-of-15 from the floor during the period.

The Celtics closed within five points in the third before getting outscored, 15-2, over the final 7:20 of the period. Troy Murphy scored six during the spurt for the Pacers, who made 9-of-16 shots.

"It's a heck of a win," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "The key to the game was we closed the first quarter poorly but closed the second and third strong and built a 20-point lead."

After the game was out of reach, Boston scored 40 points in the fourth quarter to get as close as four with 30 seconds left.

"We aren't going to give up," Celtics swingman Gerald Green said. "We just have to keep fighting. We just let it go tonight and turned it on at the wrong time. It was too late. We just need to turn it on and leave it on. We just need to play basketball and play smarter."

Tinsley shot 9-of-14 from the floor and added six rebounds and seven assists. O'Neal added eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

"Jamaal was great particularly at the offensive end," Carlisle said. "He was the difference in the game."

Danny Granger, who scored seven points in the second quarter, added 13 points and five rebounds for Indiana, which converted 29-of-46 shots from the line.

Al Jefferson had 15 points and 17 rebounds and Green added 14 for Boston, which has lost 19 of 21 since a five-game winning streak.

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