Pierce’s 17 in 3rd leads Celtics past Indy 94-87

Posted Jan. 27, 2012, at 10:20 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 11:24 p.m.
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) and teammate Kevin Garnett (5) combine to block Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) on a drive to the basket during the first quarter of an NBA game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.
Charles Krupa | AP
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) and teammate Kevin Garnett (5) combine to block Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) on a drive to the basket during the first quarter of an NBA game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.

BOSTON — Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter, hitting a 3-pointer and two more baskets as the Celtics ran off 11 consecutive points to pull away and beat the Indiana Pacers 94-87 Friday night.

Pierce added 10 rebounds and eight assists to help Boston win its fourth consecutive game despite playing without starters Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal. Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus added 13 points and eight rebounds apiece as the Celtics matched their longest winning streak of the year.

Danny Granger scored 21 points for Indiana, which had beaten Boston twice this season — both times by more than 10 points. Paul George scored 16 with nine rebounds and David West had 14 points and eight rebounds.

It was 46-all with 8:44 left in the third quarter when Pierce hit a 3 to break the tie. In the next 2 1-2 minutes, Pierce fed Avery Bradley for a layup and then, after Roy Hibbert was called for an offensive foul, Pierce hit a layup, Garnett made a jumper and then Pierce drove for another basket to make it an 11-point game.

The Celtics were up 90-80 with 35 seconds left when Pietrus was called for a flagrant foul under the Pacers’ basket and a technical for taunting. After three free throws, the Pacers got the ball trailing by only seven. But Garnett blocked Granger’s attempt to drive for a layup, and the Celtics were able to make their free throws to run out the clock.

The Celtics opened the second half with a 42-34 lead, but the Pacers cut it in half on two quick layups by Granger and then tied it at 46 with 8:44 left in the third quarter when he stole a bad pass from Pierce and brought it in for another.

Reserve Chris Wilcox had 14 points and six rebounds, and Brandon Bass had 12 points for Boston.

NOTES: Hibbert left the game in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain, but he returned in the third. He finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. … The Pacers had been 4-0 on Fridays. … Wilcox had 10 points and six rebounds at the half. … Garnett is the only Celtic to have played in every game. … The Celtics are 3-0 without Allen (left ankle) and 4-1 without Rondo (right wrist).

Nets 99, Cavs 96

CLEVELAND — Deron Williams scored 27 points and the New Jersey Nets won consecutive games for the first time this season with a 99-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

New Jersey came into the game battling illness and injuries. Forward Kris Humphries missed Friday morning’s shoot-around with the stomach flu, but was in the starting lineup and scored 18 points with 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. The Nets played without center Mehmet Okur (back injury) and guard MarShon Brooks (strained Achilles), but New Jersey led from wire-to-wire despite dressing only 10 players.

The Nets, who defeated Philadelphia in overtime on Wednesday, also completed their first winning road trip with a 2-1 record.

Anthony Morrow added 22 points for New Jersey.

Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 32 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, for Cleveland. The Cavaliers have lost five of six.

The Nets built a 32-20 lead early in the second quarter. Cleveland cut the lead to 36-33 midway through the period, but New Jersey scored 11 straight points and led 47-37 at halftime.

New Jersey opened the third quarter with 3-pointers from Williams and DeShawn Stevenson. The Nets hit five 3-pointers in the period and built a 16-point lead. New Jersey led comfortably throughout most of the fourth quarter until the Cavaliers rallied. Cleveland cut the deficit to eight points with 1:57 remaining. Irving hit a 3-pointer and a layup before Anderson Varejao’s jumper with 16.5 seconds left cut the lead to 97-93, but Morrow hit two free throws with 15.6 seconds left. Irving hit at 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Williams also had 10 assists for his fourth straight double-double.

New Jersey last won back-to-back games on March 11-14, 2011. Those were the last two victories in a five-game winning streak. The Nets began this trip with a 15-point loss in Chicago, but bounced back with a 97-90 overtime victory against Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia on Wednesday.

New Jersey coach Avery Johnson didn’t know until about an hour before the game if Humphries would be able to play.

Cleveland struggled offensively until the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers didn’t get to the free throw line until the 5:25 mark of the second quarter when Antawn Jamison converted two shots.

Jamison scored 20 points while Ramon Sessions added 11.

NOTES: Johnson said Okur will have an MRI on Saturday. Okur missed two games earlier in the season because of back spasms. … Brooks missed his third straight game and Johnson said he will have a further medical examination Saturday. Brooks might play in Sunday’s home game against Toronto. Brooks is the NBA’s second-leading scorer among rookies, trailing only Irving. … Cavaliers F Tristan Thompson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, played after missing the last two games with a sprained left ankle. He scored five points in 16 minutes. … Cleveland plays at Boston on Sunday and hosts the Celtics on Tuesday.

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