for this game

Pierce, Allen lead Celtics past Pacers

Feb 13, 2008 - 5:47 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Once again, it was no Kevin Garnett, no problem for the Boston Celtics.

Paul Pierce scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Ray Allen chipped in 23 points to lead the Celtics to a 104-97 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Boston, which has won four in a row and became the first team in the league to reach 40 wins this season, also was playing without starting center Kendrick Perkins, who missed his third straight game with a strained left shoulder.

"That's no excuse for us," Pierce said of playing without the team's two main big men. "We feel like we have to approach every game like we can win it. Until these guys get back, we have to hold down the fort."

Leon Powe added 16 points and nine rebounds and Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics.

"Different guys have been stepping up," Pierce said. "We're trying to find different ways to win ball games."

Boston picked up its sixth win in eight games without Garnett, who will be out until after the All-Star Game with an abdominal strain. Without its All-Star power forward in the lineup, Boston turned to the other two members of the "Big Three" down the stretch.

"That's not the way we want to go for the long term, but we're getting away with it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of playing without Garnett. "We just don't make a big deal of it."

The Pacers began the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run to take an 86-84 lead with 9:15 to play. But Pierce and Allen combined to lead the Celtics on a 9-0 run that put them on top, 93-86, with 6:33 remaining.

Allen capped the spurt with a 3-pointer and finished the contest 3-of-8 from the arc.

Indiana cut it to 95-94 on Shawne Williams' jumper with 3:08 remaining, but Boston locked down on defense in the final minutes - holding the Pacers to 1-of-7 shooting.

"This was definitely a winnable game," said Pacers guard Danny Granger, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. "We let it get away at the end with a lack of execution and our usual letdown in the stretch."

Powe, who was making his second straight start with Garnett and Perkins out of the lineup, scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half and went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

"We've just been trying to hold it down for the big fellas," Powe said. "With both of them out, it takes all of us to get wins."

Powe got the Celtics off on the right foot with a slam dunk for the team's first points of the night. The slam sparked a 10-0 Boston run to start the contest, during which Allen found his stroke - knocking down three shots, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Indiana finished the opening quarter on a 25-11 run to take a 25-21 lead. Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy and Granger each scored six points during the spurt.

Boston surged back in the second and took a 51-50 lead into the locker room.

"We couldn't shake them," Rivers said. "(Indiana) played hard throughout and made some big shots."

Pierce took over in the third quarter, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting as the Celtics stretched the lead to 82-77 heading into the final quarter.

The NBA's top defensive team, Boston held the Pacers to just 41 percent (18-of-44) shooting in the second half and forced 16 turnovers in the contest.

"We broke down at the end as we have in past games," Williams said. "We must execute down the stretch on both ends of the court."

Granger led six players in double figures for Indiana, which failed to top 100 points for just the second time in its last seven games.

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