Jalen Rose gave Larry Bird his favorite going-away present: a victory.
"This is going to be a game that's talked about for a long time," Rose said after scoring 23 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Boston Celtics 113-104 Wednesday night. "It's Larry Bird's last game where he won all those championships."
Bird returned to his home state to coach the Pacers after a Hall of Fame playing career in Boston. He has said that he would only coach for three years, a position he reaffirmed on Wednesday, leaving him with a 10-1 record against his former team.
"June is a long way off," he said. "I probably won't be back in this building, but I'll be back in Boston."
Indiana led 89-83 before Boston scord seven consecutive points, taking the lead on Pierce's 3-pointer with 8:46 left. Sam Perkins answered with a 3-pointer and Derrick McKey had a steal and layup to turn back the threat.
After a Celtics basket, McKey made another layup to make it 96-93. Rose then scored all 13 of the Pacers' points over the next five minutes before McKey's layup made it 111-102.
Pierce hit a long 2-pointer and Rose added two free throws with 12.2 seconds left to make it 113-104.
Boston led 51-41 with 3:30 left in the first half when the Pacers went on a 18-2 run for a six-point lead early in the third quarter. The Celtics tied it 69-69 on Calbert Cheaney's jumper with 6:34 to go in the third before Miller answered with a 3-pointer and Rik Smits added a layup.
Indiana led 82-77 when Pierce slammed home a rebound off Walker's miss. Pierce was called for an over-the-back foul and the basket was disallowed.
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