Starters get fourth quarter off as Celtics cruise to victory

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics went home after their last loss with the boos of the hometown fans still ringing in their ears.

When they got together on Friday morning, they had plenty to talk about.

"We really had a heart-to-heart this morning," Celtics captain Paul Pierce said after scoring 20 points in three quarters to help Boston snap a two-game losing streak and beat the Indiana Pacers 122-103. "We just hope it carries into the rest of the season."

Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 11 assists before joining the rest of the Celtics starters on the bench for the fourth quarter as the Celtics played their third game in four nights. The Celtics lost to Milwaukee by two points on Tuesday night and then flew back home to lose by 20 to the Memphis Grizzlies, an effort that prompted the hometown fans to boo -- and leave -- early.

That prompted the Celtics to have a chat at the morning practice on Friday.

"Doc did the majority of the talking, but he opened the floor for everybody to give two cents. We just talked freely," Kevin Garnett said. The best thing about this team since I've been here is we've been able to talk to each other, critique each other. But it wasn't about the talking, we just came out and did it tonight."

Pacers coach Jim O'Brien knew he couldn't expect the Celtics to roll over at home for a second game in a row.

"They were not happy," he said. "We were playing a wounded tiger."

Reserve Glen Davis scored 15 for Boston and Nate Robinson also had 15 points, hitting three 3-pointers in a 67-second span in the second quarter. Michael Finley, in his second game for the Celtics, scored nine points and played more than 15 minutes for just the second time since November.

"They have too many weapons for us," O'Brien said. "Picking up Nate Robinson and Michael Finley were very smart acquisitions late in the season."

Roy Hibbert scored 23, and Troy Murphy had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who have won just once in their last six games, twice in their last 10 and three times in their last 15. Starting point guard T.J. Ford left with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter due to a sore left groin and did not return.

Indiana has allowed at least 100 points in 10 of its last 14 games.

"They were stunned the other night. We got our butts kicked," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "One game doesn't fix anything. But it's good that they know what they can do."

The Celtics led by six after one and by 20 at halftime, pulling away with an 11-2 run midway through the second quarter that turned an 11-point lead into a 62-42 blowout. They led by as many as 24 in the third quarter and 25 in the fourth; the Pacers never got closer than 16 points in the second half.

Garnett, who had nine points and six rebounds, came out with 4 minutes left in the third. Pierce came out 100 seconds later, and Rondo and Ray Allen went to the bench with 30 seconds left in the third.

They stayed there for the fourth quarter because they weren't needed.

It was a much-needed rest for the starters, who have struggled through six games in 11 nights and are just 18-18 since beating the Orlando Magic on Christmas Day.

Game notes
The Celtics honored members of the military with their "Seats for Soldiers" night. The game was also broadcast for soldiers in Iraq, who were shown on the video board. ... With 618 assists for the season, Rondo passed John Havlicek and tied Tiny Archibald for the sixth-best season by a Celtic. Rondo, who already holds the No. 4 mark with 659 last year, needs 716 to pass Bob Cousy for the best in franchise history. ... The Pacers fell to 7-28 on the road.