Pacers take Game 5, have Celtics on ropes
Boston, MA (Sports Network) – Jermaine O’Neal had 19 points and 10 rebounds
and Stephen Jackson had 15 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Boston
Celtics, 90-85, in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at
O’Neal rebounded from a poor performance in Game 4 when he scored only nine
points in a 110-79 thumping at Conseco Fieldhouse, as the Pacers moved within
one game of moving on to the semifinal round. The Pacers lead this best-of-
seven set 3-2 and can close out Boston on Thursday in Indiana.
Dale Davis added 13 points and seven boards and Reggie Miller had 12 points
for Indiana, which led for most of the game and held off the Celtics down the
Paul Pierce had 27 points and seven rebounds for Boston, which has dropped two
of three games at home this postseason. Ricky Davis added 19 points and seven
boards for the Celtics, who led for a total of only 42 seconds in the game.
In the fourth, every time the Celtics appeared to get close the Pacers always
had an answer. After an Antoine Walker layup drew Boston within 77-75 with
5:07 left, Miller drained a three-pointer coming out of a timeout 17 seconds
later to increase the lead to five points.
Pierce answered with a trey of his own to again make it a two-point game with
4:28 on the clock, but nearly a minute later O’Neal hit a jumper to increase
the Pacers’ edge to four points, 82-78.
Pierce hit another running jumper with 3:05 left to make it 82-80, but Jackson
drained a three with 2:38 remaining and Boston never got within a possession
the rest of the way.
“There was a period where we could have cracked and we didn’t,” said Indiana
head coach Rick Carlisle. “Mentally and emotionally we stayed calm and
executed. We had some guys make some huge plays obviously, like Reggie’s
(Miller) three, Jack (Stephen Jackson) hit a big three, and then we were able
to get stops and we have to do both things well to have a chance in this
Walker ended with only 10 points for Boston, which doesn’t have history on its
side. The Celtics have won only two of nine best-of-seven series when falling
Indiana, on the other hand, had never lost a series in 21 tries when taking
a 3-2 series lead.
“We can sit here and give a million reasons,” said Walker. “It’s tough. I got
some decent shots around the basket, just not finishing. I missed a couple of
layups I probably should have made. We’re down 3-2 and we have to just keep
fighting. All I can do is suck it up and contribute to this team. I’m just
going to do my part.”
Leading 23-21 after one quarter, the Pacers opened the second with an 8-2
burst to take a 31-23 advantage. Scot Pollard recorded the final four points
of the surge, capping it with a jumper at the 8:42 mark.
Later in the quarter the Pacers continued to increase their cushion, scoring
six straight points midway through to take a 41-28 lead after a pair of
O’Neal free throws with 5:03 left until the break.
The Pacers coasted into halftime with a 50-42 lead and continued to build upon
their advantage in the third. Still leading by eight, 58-50, 5 1/2 minutes
into the half, Davis began a 9-2 run that was capped by a James Jones three-
pointer with 4:09 left until the fourth for a 67-52 lead.
Boston closed the quarter by scoring 13 of the final 16 points to draw within
70-65. Pierce scored eight during the run, scoring six of those points from
the free throw line.
Indiana point guard Jamaal Tinsley started and played in his first game since
February 23, scoring six points and dishing out seven assists. He missed the
last 29 regular season games and the first four contest of the playoffs with a
bruised left foot.
“I felt good,” said Tinsley. “I’m just trying to be out there to help the
team. The team doctors told me I was good, so it was up to the coaching staff
to put me out there. I got the clearance today.”
Anthony Johnson, who started the first four games at point for the Pacers,
came off the bench and had seven points, playing with a strained back.
The winner of this series will take on the Detroit Pistons, who closed out the
Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night…Boston’s only two leads came early in
the game, 4-2 at the 9:33 mark of the first and 5-4 30 seconds later…The
Celtics are 23-7 in best-of-seven playoff series in their history…Pacers can
win a postseason series for the first time in franchise history after losing