for this game

Pierce's season-high 31 leads Celtics to sixth straight

Nov 14, 2007 - 4:10 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Indiana Pacers showed the rest of the NBA that the Boston Celtics' trio of stars could be slowed down - at least for one quarter.

Paul Pierce scored 17 of his season-high 31 points in the second quarter and Ray Allen scored all 17 of his points after intermission as the Celtics continued their impressive start with a 101-86 victory over the slumping Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

The Celtics, who entered the game outscoring their opponents by an average of 16 points and shooting 11 percentage points higher, held the Pacers to 35 percent (29-of-83) shooting and forced 22 turnovers en route to starting the season 6-0 for the first time since 1987-88 when Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale were ruling the courts.

"I don't think it was a well-played game by either team," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "Offensively, we just kept searching for the right play, the right combination, and towards the end we found something. We stayed with it and came out on the road and won the game. I'll take it."

Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double for Boston, which got nine points off the bench from reserve forward Brian Scalabrine and 11 rebounds and six assists from Pierce.

"We kind of let Paul Pierce get away from us tonight," Pacers forward Danny Granger said.

Boston's "Big Three" of Pierce, Allen and Garnett entered the contest averaging a combined 69.0 points, 25.0 rebounds and 14.0 assists in their first five games. But Indiana led by as many as six and was within 26-24 after one period as the "Big Three" scored just eight points on 1-of-9 shooting.

But Pierce carried the Celtics' offense in the second quarter, scoring 15 of their last 17 points as Boston built a nine-point lead.

"Paul Pierce is an awfully difficult guy to guard 1-on-1," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "They have so many shooters on the perimeter, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't."

He was fouled hard by Pacers guard Jamal Tinsley on a drive to the bucket with 3:06 left in the half and Boston leading 40-38. The play seemed to ignite the veteran swingman.

"I thought (there was) a flagrant foul," Pierce said. "I got hit in the back of the head and I just used that frustration to help my team. I didn't want to cause any fights or do anything to hurt my team, so I tried to use it in a positive manner."

The All-Star's baseline drive which resulted in a three-point play gave Boston a 46-41 lead with 1:52 left in the half. On Boston's next possession, Pierce backed down Shawne Williams and converted a lefthanded layup to increase the lead to seven.

"Clearly, they (Indiana) lit a fire under Paul," Rivers said. "He thought the play was not a clean play and it got him upset. As a coach, you have to make a decision, and we went to (isolation) plays for Paul right after that.

"My read was that if he gets going because of that, then we ride him. When we went to him the first time and he scored, then you knew he was in the right frame of mind."

Pierce hit all 11 of his free throws and Boston converted 19-of-24 from the free-throw line in the half and held Indiana to 33 percent (13-of-39) shooting in taking a 52-43 edge into the locker room. Furthermore, Jermaine O'Neal got in early foul trouble and was held scoreless on five shots, and Williams picked up four fouls in the half as the Pacers dropped their fourth straight.

"We're getting the looks that we want, they just haven't been falling," O'Neal said. "Tonight, I really wasn't able to get inside because they did a good job closing up the lane. I don't believe that we are a bad shooting team, it's just been unfortunate the way we've shot the last few games."

Allen, who was held scoreless in the first half on four shots, picked up the pace in the third quarter - scoring 10 points in the first six minutes as Boston built a 66-52 edge.

His 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:50 left in the quarter made it 69-54 and Pierce added a three-point play 30 seconds later - his first hoop of the half - to extend the edge to 72-56.

Indiana pulled with 76-65 after three periods, and pulled within 89-82 with four minutes left before Garnett hit an outside jumper to help hold off the rally.

Granger, who kept the Pacers in the game in the first half by converting 5-of-6 shots for 13 points, finished with 24 points.

Celtics reserve guard Eddie House left the game in the fourth period with an apparent leg injury.

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