INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Boston Celtics earned themselves one
more chance at home, though that's hardly been an advantage so far.
In the wildest game yet of a series headed to a Game 7, the
Celtics overcame the late ejection of Paul Pierce and sent their
first-round matchup with the Indiana Pacers back to Boston for the
deciding game with a 92-89 victory Thursday night.
"That is the craziest ... game I've ever seen in my life,"
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "This series has just been
In the six games thus far, the home team has won just twice.
Three of the games were blowouts, and each time, the losing team
came back to win the next one on the road.
On Thursday night, Antoine Walker scored 24 points, including a
go-ahead 3-pointer early in overtime and the clinching basket with
a minute to go to keep the Celtics alive.
"I was just trying to rally the troops together," Walker said.
"We were in a hostile environment and I tried to rally the troops
to keep going on and play."
Boston came back from an early 11-point deficit, took the lead
late in the second quarter and stayed in front until the closing
seconds of regulation, when Pierce was ejected for his second
Boston led 84-83 at the time, and Pierce had just been
intentionally fouled by Jamaal Tinsley as the Pacers tried to stop
the clock. Tinsley hit Pierce in the neck while fouling him, and
Pierce appeared to swing his elbow in anger.
"It was an overreaction to a hard foul and I lost my cool out
there. It almost cost us," Pierce said. "I'm just happy we got
the win. I don't know how I'd feel if we lost this game."
Referee Steve Javie did not immediately make a call. But after
huddling with the other two officials, Pierce was assessed his
second technical foul of the game -- an automatic ejection.
"I thought Tinsley should have been kicked out of the game for
some of the dirty things he did to us. He had his hands in my face
on the last play, and that's why I overreacted," Pierce said. "It
won't happen again."
Reggie Miller hit the technical foul shot to tie the game, and
the Pacers got to choose which Celtics player would replace Pierce
at the foul line. They selected Kendrick Perkins, a 64 percent foul
shooter, and he missed both attempts.
The Pacers then had a chance to win, but Miller shot an airball
from well behind the 3-point line, sending the game to overtime.
"When the incident happened with Paul, all I told the team ...
was that we cannot lose this game," Rivers said. "We cannot. ...
We've played all year to have a Game 7 in our place."
Al Jefferson scored the first basket of the extra period, and
there was one more tie before Walker's 3-pointer put the Celtics
ahead to stay. His next basket made it 91-87 before Tinsley scored,
and Indiana got the ball back with 15 seconds left.
Jermaine O'Neal then missed a 16-foot turnaround and the ball
went out of bounds over the backboard. Delonte West hit one of two
free throws to finish the scoring for Boston, and Indiana's Anthony
Johnson missed a 3-pointer after Indiana inbounded with 0.7 seconds
"We're now in a situation where we have an opportunity to play
what I call the ultimate game and it's never easy to close out a
series, no matter what happens," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said.
"It's tough. We've got to go up there and get a win.
"It's certainly disappointing to have a chance to advance and
not get it done at home. But Boston played a good all-around
game," he said.
Ricky Davis had a playoff career-high 22 points and Pierce added
20 for Boston. O'Neal led Indiana with 26 points.
"We didn't expect to lose this game. It's another tough
obstacle for us," O'Neal said. "But nobody's in a panic mode.
We've got one more chance to move on. Nobody said it would be
The winner of Game 7 on Saturday will open the Eastern
Conference semifinals at defending NBA champion Detroit.
"I think Reggie might have just played his last game in his
building," Walker said in a postgame interview with Turner Sports.
Walker had 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and
overtime, but it was Boston's bench that initially put the Celtics
in position to win.
Led by Davis and Jefferson, who finished with 11 points and 14
rebounds, the Celtics' bench outscored the starters in the first
half to overcome Indiana's early lead. The Pacers scored the first
10 points of the game, and a basket and free throw by Miller gave
Indiana its biggest lead, 19-8.
The Celtics came back in the second quarter, led 49-43 at the
half and 70-62 after three quarters before consecutive 3-pointers
by Indiana's James Jones and Fred Jones started the frantic fourth
Miller, who had 12 points, needs 27 points to pass former
Celtics player Sam Jones (2,909) for 18th in playoff career
scoring. ... The last time Boston won a playoff series after
trailing 3-2 was in 1988 against Atlanta. ... Former players Walt
Frazier, George Gervin and Dominique Wilkins attended the game as
part of the NBA Legends Tour.