INDIANAPOLIS, March 19 (Ticker) -- A missing man for most of the season, Tony Allen morphed into the main man at the best possible time for the Boston Celtics.

Allen scored 11 of his season-high 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics salvaged the finale of their four-game road trip with a critical 103-88 triumph over the Indiana Pacers.

NBA TV highlights from
Paul Pierce scored 22 points and Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West added 16 apiece for Boston (28-39), which moved within 3 1/2 games of Philadelphia (31-35) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm not necessarily thinking about the playoffs right now," said Celtics assistant Tony Brown, who served as interim coach as Doc Rivers missed the game following the death of his father-in-law. "I just want us to improve every night. We've lost a lot of close games, and some of that has to do with our youth. This was one of the few nights where our youth stepped in and gave us a lift."

The focus of Brown's praise was the 24-year-old Allen, who averaged 6.4 points on 47 percent shooting as a rookie last season. But the Oklahoma State product has regressed this season, averaging just 4.6 points in 35 games while dealing with injuries and off-the-court issues.

"That's the Tony we remember from last year," Brown said. "His all-around aggressiveness lifted us up a little bit tonight." In addition to his impressive offensive effort, Allen - who is known primarily as a defender - blanketed Stephen Jackson, who managed only 13 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

"He played great defense on Stephen Jackson during crunch time," said Brown, whose team outscored the Pacers, 31-17, in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics had dropped the first three games of their trek but managed to salvage a victory thanks to crisp 53 percent (39-of-73) shooting and balanced scoring.

With the game tied at 72-72 just over a minute into the fourth quarter, Allen made a pair of free throws to ignite a 9-0 run. Kendrick Perkins followed with a layup before Allen capped the burst with a 3-pointer and two more foul shots with nine minutes to play.

"I was going to do whatever I could, no matter what, to help out the team tonight," said Allen, whose previous season high was only 12 points. "Our second unit brought the energy and it helped turn the game around."

The Celtics controlled the pace the rest of the way, ending the game with a 14-5 surge in which Pierce scored six points and Szczerbiak added two baskets and a pair of assists.

"I really thought (bench play) was the difference in the game," said Pierce, who added six rebounds and six assists. "They gave the starters some cushion at the start of the fourth quarter. They played with confidence, moved the ball well, and played good defense. They basically opened up the game and the starters came in and put it away."

Peja Stojakovic scored 16 points and rookie Danny Granger added 14 for Indiana (33-31), which lost for the fifth time in eight games and fell one-half game behind Washington (34-31) for fifth place in the East.

"We are in a precarious position right now," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "Nothing is a lock. To make the playoffs, we will have to have more of a sense of urgency at both ends. Tonight's game was a setback."

The Pacers were swept in the season series by the Celtics, losing the three matchups by an average of 10 points.

"We looked stagnant and out of rhythm and they took advantage of it," said Pacers guard Anthony Johnson, who contributed 12 points and eight assists. "For whatever reason, we play well against the teams above .500 and not so well against the lottery teams. I don't know if we aren't giving them enough respect, but we just don't play a full 48 minutes against those type of teams."