BOSTON (Ticker) -- Erick Strickland
and friends gave Paul Pierce
and Antoine Walker
a rare night off.
Strickland scored a season-high 22 points and teamed with Kenny Anderson and Vitaly Potapenko to cover for Pierce and Walker as the Boston Celtics held off the Indiana Pacers, 98-94.
The Celtics won for the fifth time in seven games despite not getting any points from Pierce and Walker over the final 8 1/2 minutes.
The duo combines for 50 points a game but managed just 32 on 11-of-30 shooting. Pierce, battling the flu, scored 20 points on 6-of-15 from the floor. Walker had just 12 points, shooting 5-of-15.
NBA.comTV highlights from Pacers-Celtics:
"Indiana's game plan was not to let Paul and Antoine get to the rim very much," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "They passed the basketball and went with other guys."
"That's something we definitely need and it's a weapon that we have," Walker said. "So if we can continue to get that contribution, it's going to free up things for me and Paul as the season goes along."
Strickland, Anderson and Potapenko combined to score Boston's last 13 points. It was enough to turn back the Pacers, who have lost four of their last five games.
"All of us have to step up because we know that we have two great offensive players that teams have to double, which will make it a lot better for them toward the end of games if we're knocking shots down," Strickland said. "And it opens up the rim a lot more for them."
"I wasn't necessarily surprised by his shooting ability," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "He and Anderson have both been playing really well. But you know you want to try and take Pierce and Walker out of the game as much as you possibly can."
Strickland became just the second Celtic in 113 games other than Pierce and Walker to lead the team in scoring. He is the first since Walter McCarty did it April 15, 2001 against New Jersey.
"That's very unexpected. Like I said, my job is just to be here to help out," Strickland said. "I'm more of a defensive guy, but if the shots are there, I've got to knock them down."
Anderson had 17 points and eight assists and Potapenko had 12 and 12 rebounds as Boston beat Indiana for the second time in as many meetings this season and reached the halfway point at 25-16.
Indiana's Reggie Miller scored 21 of his 26 points in the third quarter but none in the fourth. Jalen Rose added 20 for the Pacers, who got back one player and lost another.
Forward Jermaine O'Neal, their leading scorer and rebounder who missed the last four games with a hyperextended left knee, returned and had 19 points and 12 boards. However, forward Al Harrington went down with a sprained right knee in the fourth quarter and will have an MRI on Thursday.
"At first, I felt close to normal, but as the game progressed, my leg got weaker," O'Neal said. "But once you decide to lace them up, there are no excuses after that."
The Celtics led the entire fourth quarter. Consecutive layups by Anderson made it 89-82 with 4:53 left and Potapenko answered a layup by Jonathan Bender with an inside hoop.
O'Neal made a short jumper but missed two free throws before a 3-pointer by Rose got the Pacers within 91-89 with 2:18 to play. An 18-footer by Rose followed a free throw by Anderson and made it a one-point game with 1:33 to go.
On consecutive possessions, Anderson ran a high pick-and-roll with Potapenko. He made a jumper off the first and Potapenko hit one off the second, making it 96-91 with 33 seconds left.
"I just wanted to play and take over when I have to," Anderson said. "Be aggressive, be a leader when they need a big play -- try to get it -- when they need a big bucket, try to get the bucket, and it's working out for me."
"Kenny was great in the decision-making as far as hitting Vitaly sometimes with the layup or the jump shot, or Kenny himself making big shots," Walker said.
The Pacers missed three 3-pointers before the ball went out of bounds off the Celtics. Strickland stole the inbounds pass and made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
Strickland also had season highs with five 3-pointers and eight rebounds. He has been working on his shooting with assistant coach Frank Vogel.
"Just getting over that hesitation point," Strickland said. "When it comes, just step up and take it. He (Vogel) told me I was going to get a lot of good looks tonight, so I looked for the opportunity."
"He's very dedicated to becoming a great shooter," O'Brien said. "He recognizes that having Antoine and Paul that there's plenty of opportunities when they get trapped to reverse the basketball and to be able to have your feet set and knock them down."
Pierce swept 10 boards and Walker nine for the Celtics, who shot 44 percent (35-of-80) and held a 52-47 edge on the glass.
Rose had 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 41.5 percent (34-of-82). Indiana made 12-of-30 3-pointers but just 2-of-10 in the final period.
"We did a good job of putting ourselves in a position to win the ballgame. We just came up short," Miller said. "It's one of those games that you just come up short."
Pierce and Walker also had nothing to do with the surge that gave Boston the lead for good. After Miller's fast-break dunk made it 60-60 midway through the third quarter, Strickland hit a 3-pointer, Potapenko sank an 18-footer and Eric Williams scored for a 67-60 lead.
Williams hit a 3-pointer to give Boston a 78-74 lead entering the final period.