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Paul Pierce missed his first 10 shots and then scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including seven straight, to put the Boston Celtics ahead for good in a 103-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.
Pierce finished with 21 points, going 12 for 13 from the free throw line to make up for his slow start from the floor. Kendrick Perkins scored 19 points to go with eight rebounds, and Rasheed Wallace filled in for ailing Kevin Garnett with nine points and 13 rebounds.
Troy Murphy had 24 points and a season-high 18 rebounds for Indiana, which lost its fourth straight. Earl Watson scored all 18 of his points in the first half to help the Pacers open a 15-point halftime lead.
The Celtics trailed 66-54 before scoring 13 straight points — nine by Ray Allen — to take their first lead of the game on his 3-pointer with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
It was 86-all when Pierce hit a pull-up jumper from the right side for his first basket of the game. He followed with a steal that led to two free throws, and then a 3-pointer that made it 93-86.
After Allen hit from the right side, Pierce hit two more free throws and a jumper for a nine-point lead with 52 seconds left.
Garnett was a late scratch with a thigh bruise after participating in the walkthrough with the team at 5 p.m. Coach Doc Rivers made no mention of the injury when he met with reporters at 6:40. But team spokesman Jeff Twiss said Garnett was hurt before Sunday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves; he wanted to play, but Rivers told him to take the night off, Twiss said.
Garnett had not missed a game this season, but he missed 22 of the last 26 games last season — and all of the playoffs — with strained ligaments in his right knee.
This program aired on December 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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