NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, December 22nd (All times Eastern)
Boston Celtics (12-16) at Indiana Pacers (21-5), 6 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers appear to have things back on track and will try for a second straight win Sunday evening when they host the Boston Celtics.
The Pacers endured their first losing streak of the season, a two-game slide that culminated with their 97-94 setback to the Miami Heat in South Beach on Wednesday.
On Friday, the Pacers had six scorers in double figures in a 114-81 rout of the Houston Rockets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"This team doesn't like losing, and we lost two in a row," Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said of his team's attitude coming off consecutive losses. "We talked about playing mad for four quarters."
Former All-Star Danny Granger made his season debut for the Pacers after missing the first 25 games with a strained left calf and all but five games of last season thanks to a knee injury. He finished with five points in just over 22 minutes.
"Obviously, what I've been going through the last two years has been hard," Granger said. "It's always good to have the support of Indiana."
Paul George led Indiana with 24 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Lance Stephenson supplied 16 points, six boards and six assists, Luis Scola scored 13 points and David West and George Hill each netted 12 for the Pacers. Ian Mahinmi chipped in 10 off the bench.
Sunday's tilt is a battle of division leaders with the Pacers on top in the Central and the C's in front in the Atlantic. Granted, there is a 10-game difference between the two in the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Boston has dropped two in a row to end a five-game homestand at 2-3.
For the second straight game the Celtics lit up the scoreboard in the first quarter, shooting 12-of-20 (60 percent) from the field as they jumped out to a 30-14 lead.
But like Wednesday's game against the Pistons, when they blew a 21-point lead, the Celtics let the Wizards inch back in it. A Jeff Green layup had the Celtics on top, 92-84, with 6:14 remaining, but the Wizards answered with 14 of the next 15 points.
Washington won 106-99 as the Wizards scored 62 points over the final two quarters.
"They played a great game. Finished it off strong, made plays, and we didn't," Boston guard Jordan Crawford said.
Avery Bradley led the way for Boston with 26 points. Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass both registered double-doubles as Sullinger totaled 22 points and 11 rebounds while Bass added 11 and 11 in the loss.
Green finished with 13 and Crawford chipped in 11.
The Pacers beat the Celtics by 15 on Nov. 22 in Boston. That win snapped a four-game series losing streak for Indiana, but the C's are 6-4 in their last 10 in Indianapolis.
12/22 10:17:04 ET