Rajon Rondo scored 18 points and handed out seven assists while Kevin Garnett added 18 points and seven rebounds before his ejection as the Celtics snapped a four-game skid with a 94-75 win over the Pacers Friday night at TD Garden. Jared Sullinger provided valuable inside presence with a team high 10 rebounds in 30 minutes before fouling out, as the Celtics improved to 15-17 on the season. The Celtics held the Pacers to 27-of-85 shooting from the field (31.8 percent) and a season-low 75 points.
The Celtics started off the game shooting just 25 percent, making five of their first 20 shots from the floor. But their defense and the rebounding presence inside from Jared Sullinger kept Indiana equally as cold. The Celtics finished the first quarter shooting just 29.2 percent on 7-of-24 from the field but the Pacers made just 7-of-20 and the Celtics trailed by only one, 16-15, after 12 minutes.
With the Pacers leading 20-19 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half, the Celtics went on a 17-3 run to assume control. Sullinger had five rebounds and Rondo had 10 points in the second quarter as Celtics built their lead up to 15 several times, taking a 47-35 lead at the half. The Celtics defense was the star of the first half, holding the Pacers to 14-of-44 (31.8 percent) shooting from the field.
The Celtics continued their defensive dominance in the third quarter as Indiana shot just 7-of-23 in the period, helping Boston build its lead to 20 several times. The Celtics took a 69-51 lead into the fourth quarter.
With the lead down to 16, Jason Terry and Garnett responded with baskets to push the lead back to 20, 73-53. With 8:24 left in the game, Garnett was called for a flagrant '2' foul and was ejected for his foul on Tyler Hansbrough. While Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce expressed their disgust, Garnett made his way off the court to a standing ovation. Moments later, Hansbrough went baseline for a slam dunk that made it 79-59 and he was booed the rest of the game. Hansbrough led the Pacers with 19 points off the bench.
With the lead up to 22 points and the play growing increasingly chippy, Rivers pulled all of his starters for the final six minutes, with the exception of Brandon Bass, who was inserted into the starting lineup before the game for Jason Collins. Bass finished with just four points. The Celtics have little time to savor the win as they play in Atlanta Saturday night against the Hawks. They play in New York on Monday against the Knicks before taking on the Suns and Rockets next Wednesday and Friday at TD Garden.