Pacers Win In New Arena

An injured Iraqi man is treated in a local hospital, in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March 9, 2006. Two roadside bombs targeting Iraqi patrols Thursday killed at least two civilians and injured 10, police said. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hato)
AP Photo/Mohammed Hato

New facility, old result.

In their first outing at their new home Conseco Fieldhouse the Indiana Pacers beat the Boston Celtics 115-108 Saturday night behind 29 points by Reggie Miller.

Indiana's 10th consecutive victory over the Celtics was before a sellout crowd of 18,345.

Larry Bird, who was honored at halftime along with Miller in recognition of being selected as among the 50 greatest players in Indiana basketball history, has never lost to his former team in eight games as a coach.

"I'd rather beat them than anyone in the league," said Bird, who received one of the biggest ovations when he was introduced. "I wonder what it would have been had we been down 15 at the half."

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  • The Pacers went 10-of-20 from beyond the 3-point line.

    "We didn't defend the 3. It's not that we didn't run our offense. We just gave up all those 3s and too many offensive rebounds," Boston coach Rick Pitino said. "Indiana had good spacing and used it to their advantage by hitting all those 3s."

    Boston, which had won its first three games, was led by Antoine Walker with 21 points, while Kenny Anderson had 20 and Paul Pierce 19.

    Boston rallied from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter to trail 73-71 on a jumper by Vitaly Potapenko. The Pacers shot only 31.6 percent in the quarter (6-of-19), while the Celtics shot 52 percent. Pierce sparked the comeback with 10 points.

    Indiana led 81-76 after three quarters and outscored Boston 8-1 in the opening minutes of the fourth. The Celtics got into early foul trouble in the period and Indiana made them pay scoring six points from the line and getting into the bonus two minutes into the quarter.

    The Pacers outscored Boston 33-18 from the free throw line, making 82.5 percent of its 40 attempts. Miller was 11-of-12 from the line and is 33-of-37 for the season.

    "With these new rules, I feel like a kid again, coming off the dribble and going to the line," Miller said. "I've got to be aggressive, I've got to take advantage of the new rules."

    A free throw by Austin Croshere with 9:47 to go and his rebound basket gave Indiana a 91-80 lead and two free throws by Chris Mullin with 7:12 left made it 97-82 with 6:43 to play. Boston, seeking its first 4-0 start since 1987, pulled to 109-103 and had one more chance to get back into the game but Pierce turned the ball over with about a minute to go.

    Indiana had six players finish in double figures with Mark Jackson getting 15 points and eight assists.

    "We took care of the ball tonight," Jackson said, referring to the 32 turnovers Indiana had in its last game. "We were the show. It was a great feeling. When we ran out there, it felt very special. It's the type of environment you've got to enjoy."

    The Pacers moved ahead to stay with eight straight points, starting with a tip-in by Dale Davis followed by consecutive 3-pointers by Miller and Jalen Rose.


  • Former UCLA coach John Wooden, an Indiana high school and Purdue All-America, was given the honor of presenting the game ball for the first game at Conseco Fieldhouse.
  • Among the other former Indiana stars recognized at halftime were Oscar Robertson, Steve Alford, George McGinnis, Don Buse and twin brothers Dick and Tom Van Arsdale.
  • Boston has scored over 100 points in all four games this season.
  • Davis had his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Al Harrington, who scored only 45 points in 21 games as a rookie coming out of high school last year, has scored in double figures in all three games and has 40 points for the Pacers.
  • Pierce has been in double figures in all four games and has 95 points.

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