Paul Pierce scored 24 points and the Celtics beat the , 86-72, on Saturday night.
The Celtics lead their division by two games over the Philadelphia 76ers, who lost by 88-82 to the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
“They’re playing at a very, very high level,” Indiana Coach Frank Vogel said of the Celtics. “They have a championship coach and a championship core. They know how to get it done.”
Danny Granger scored 20 points for the Pacers, who had won four in a row and had scored more than 100 points in five consecutive games. But against the Celtics, they matched their lowest point total of the season. Indiana shot 35 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers.
“This is just a bump in the road for us, and we must put it behind us and get ready for the next game,” Granger said. “We had several shots that could have dropped, but they didn’t.”
The Celtics and the Pacers split their four-game season series.
The Pacers were coming off a home win against Oklahoma City on Friday night, but they looked tired against the Celtics.
Boston took a 22-19 lead, then held the Pacers scoreless for the next 7 minutes 23 seconds to take a 36-19 lead.
“I thought defensively, we were sensational tonight,” Boston Coach Doc Rivers said.
MAGIC 88, 76ERS 82 Dwight Howard had 20 points and 22 rebounds, and Glen Davis had 23 points and 12 rebounds to help visiting Orlando end a five-game losing streak and take the focus off its well-publicized rift. Coach Stan Van Gundy disclosed last week that Howard wanted him fired, but 76ers Coach Doug Collins said that was nothing new.
“It’s been a season of drama throughout the league,” he said.
His own team might be due for some. Philadelphia has lost 9 of 13 and is in danger of missing a playoff spot after leading the Atlantic Division for much of the season. The 76ers are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but only a game ahead of the eighth-place Knicks, and a game and half ahead of ninth-place Milwaukee.
BUCKS 116, TRAIL BLAZERS 94 Beno Udrih scored a season-high 21 points and Brandon Jennings also had 21 for host Milwaukee. The Bucks have won four in a row and are .500 (28-28) for the first time since they were 2-2.
HORNETS 99, TIMBERWOLVES 90 Jason Smith had a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds for host New Orleans. Minnesota has lost 5 in a row and 13 of 17.
GRIZZLIES 94, MAVERICKS 89 Rudy Gay scored 25 points and host Memphis moved two games ahead of Dallas for fifth place in the Western Conference.
HAWKS 116, BOBCATS 96 Eight players for Atlanta scored in double digits at Charlotte. The Hawks broke open the game in the third quarter with a season-high 38 points.