Celtics Slow Down the Pacers and Steady Themselves

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.

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N.B.A. ROUNDUP; Pacers’ Comeback Victory Keeps Celtics Stumbling

Roy Hibbert scored 26 points and the Indiana Pacers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the visiting Boston Celtics, 107-100, on Monday night and remain in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Danny Granger had 18 points and Darren Collison 17 for the Pacers. Indiana outscored Boston, 26-15, in the fourth quarter.

Hibbert said, ”I just came out aggressive and wanted to be a force down there offensively and defensively.”

Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 points, and Glen Davis added 20 for the Celtics, who are fading in their quest to catch Chicago for the best record in the East. Boston is 5-7 since March 9 and trails the Bulls by two games.

”We became a great team because we were known to do it for 48 minutes,” the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett said. ”We seem to be missing that right now.”

Indiana remained a game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats in the East.

WIZARDS 100, JAZZ 95 The rookie John Wall scored 28 points and Jordan Crawford hit a key shot at the end of regulation and made two steals in overtime to lead Washington to only its second road win. Crawford finished with 25 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter and the game-tying shot with 4.4 seconds left. Utah has lost six in a row.

76ERS 97, BULLS 85 Thaddeus Young scored 21 points and Philadelphia built a 23-point lead and held on, ending Chicago’s 14-game home winning streak.

Chicago, losing for only the second time in its last 14 games over all, got 31 points from Derrick Rose, who also had 10 turnovers. Andre Iguodala added 19 points and 7 assists for the 76ers.

TRAIL BLAZERS 100, SPURS 92 Andre Miller scored 26 points and visiting Portland beat banged-up San Antonio as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan sat out with injuries.

The Spurs have the best record in the N.B.A., 57-17, but have lost a season-high four games in a row and two in three days to the Blazers. San Antonio’s Western Conference lead over the Los Angeles Lakers is down to three and a half games.

BOBCATS 87, BUCKS 86 Gerald Henderson scored the final 7 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left, and short-handed Charlotte staged an unlikely comeback to beat visiting Milwaukee.

Starting with no available centers before losing their top two point guards to injuries, the Bobcats remained in playoff contention after Brandon Jennings missed two layups and a 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds that would have put the Bucks ahead.

The Bobcats held Milwaukee scoreless over the final 3:52.

Kwame Brown, the Bobcats’ starting center, left the team Monday to be with his ill daughter in Georgia, and Joel Przybilla (knee) and DeSagana Diop (Achilles’ tendon) were already sidelined.

JAMES HOMECOMING, PART IILeBron James will play in Cleveland for the second time since rejecting the Cavaliers last summer as a free agent when the Miami Heat goes to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.

Nearly four months since his last visit, he is not expecting as much outward hostility. ”Can’t get no worse than it was Dec. 2,” he said. ”I know that for a fact.”

James scored 38 points and powered the Heat to a 118-90 victory, triggering a plunge by the Cavaliers, who have the league’s worst record (14-58).

PHOTO: The Bobcats’ Stephen Jackson, who had 18 points, got by the Bucks’ Luc Mbah a Moute. (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHUCK BURTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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Pacers’ Comeback Victory Keeps Celtics Stumbling

Danny Granger had 18 points and Darren Collison 17 for the Pacers. Indiana outscored Boston, 26-15, in the fourth quarter.

Hibbert said, “I just came out aggressive and wanted to be a force down there offensively and defensively.”

Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 points, and Glen Davis added 20 for the Celtics, who are fading in their quest to catch Chicago for the best record in the East. Boston is 5-7 since March 9 and trails the by two games.

“We became a great team because we were known to do it for 48 minutes,” the Celtics’ said. “We seem to be missing that right now.”

Indiana remained a game ahead of the in the East.

100, 95 The rookie John Wall scored 28 points and Jordan Crawford hit a key shot at the end of regulation and made two steals in overtime to lead Washington to only its second road win. Crawford finished with 25 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter and the game-tying shot with 4.4 seconds left. Utah has lost six in a row.

97, BULLS 85 Thaddeus Young scored 21 points and Philadelphia built a 23-point lead and held on, ending Chicago’s 14-game home winning streak.

Chicago, losing for only the second time in its last 14 games over all, got 31 points from Derrick Rose, who also had 10 turnovers. Andre Iguodala added 19 points and 7 assists for the 76ers.

100, 92 Andre Miller scored 26 points and visiting Portland beat banged-up San Antonio as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and sat out with injuries.

The Spurs have the best record in the , 57-17, but have lost a season-high four games in a row and two in three days to the Blazers. San Antonio’s Western Conference lead over the is down to three and a half games.

BOBCATS 87, 86 Gerald Henderson scored the final 7 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left, and short-handed Charlotte staged an unlikely comeback to beat visiting Milwaukee.

Starting with no available centers before losing their top two point guards to injuries, the Bobcats remained in playoff contention after missed two layups and a 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds that would have put the Bucks ahead.

The Bobcats held Milwaukee scoreless over the final 3:52.

Kwame Brown, the Bobcats’ starting center, left the team Monday to be with his ill daughter in Georgia, and Joel Przybilla (knee) and DeSagana Diop (Achilles’ tendon) were already sidelined.

JAMES HOMECOMING, PART II will play in Cleveland for the second time since rejecting the last summer as a free agent when the goes to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.

Nearly four months since his last visit, he is not expecting as much outward hostility. “Can’t get no worse than it was Dec. 2,” he said. “I know that for a fact.”

James scored 38 points and powered the Heat to a 118-90 victory, triggering a plunge by the Cavaliers, who have the league’s worst record (14-58).

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