BOSTON, April 23 (Ticker) --
The Indiana Pacers can thank Al Harrington
and Jonathan Bender
for helping wipe out a Boston playoff hex in
a big way.
NBA TV highlights from|
Harrington and Bender each scored 19 points off the bench as the
Pacers rolled to a 108-85 rout of the Boston Celtics and a 3-0
lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Indiana had lost six straight playoff games in Boston, including
all three in last year's first-round defeat. But the
top-seeded Pacers are in a different class than the
eighth-seeded Celtics this season and demonstrated that the site
does not matter in this matchup, handing Boston the worst home
playoff loss in its storied history.
Ron Artest scored 15 points as the Pacers moved to within a game of sweeping.|
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
"We have a lot of respect for Boston," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle
said. "They came out and played hard today, we just
played better. We played one of our better games. We're going
to have to continue to do that."
Bender scored eight points in a 19-2 tear in the second quarter
that built a 48-28 cushion with 3:59 left. The period also
provided a showcase for Harrington, who scored 10 points on
"Once we turn our defense on and decide we are going to do it,
the offense just steps in," Bender said. "Once we shut them
down on their end, then we aren't trading baskets and we can
take over the game."
Boston's Paul Pierce
made just 4-of-17 shots and scored nine
points -- the lowest playoff total in his career.
"They are a much more talented team than us," Pierce admitted.
"They are well-coached and (when) you don't really have everyone
on the same page and at a consistent level, it really gets
exposed in the playoffs. They are just showing our youth (and)
The Pacers led by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter,
controlling the mismatch in every aspect. The big efforts by
the reserves allowed Indiana to limit the minutes of All-Star
forwards Jermaine O'Neal
and Ron Artest
"These are the nights where it's a little hard because you
played a very talented team and they have a way of making you
look bad," Celtics coach John Carroll
said. "It's very
embarrassing, but give them all the credit. They just gave us a
kind of an old-fashioned butt-kicking."
The Pacers will try to wrap up just the second four-game sweep
in team history on Sunday afternoon in Boston.
"It means a great deal, but we've still got to come out in Game
Four and close it off," Bender said. "That's the main thing we
are looking at right now, not getting lackadaisical and just
come in Sunday and take it."