Rajon Rondo leads Celtics to chippy win over Pacers
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett's feet fly over the first row as he lands in the second row while chasing the loose ball against the Indiana Pacers during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, left, dunks over Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, left. pressures Indiana Pacers forward Paul George while bringing the ball up court during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, rear, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston Celtics center Jason Collins, center, dumps off the ball while pressured by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, left, and guard D.J. Augustin, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON — Kevin Garnett went over the fans sitting courtside to save the ball, and then he ran through the seats halfway up the court before he found an opening — over the broadcast table — to get back on the floor.
By the end of the game, he couldn’t get back on the floor at all.
Garnett scored 18 points before he was ejected for a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter, but by then the Boston Celtics were on their way to a 94-75 victory over the Indiana Pacers that snapped a four-game losing streak.
“You could tell we needed this win, and that’s how we came out tonight,” Garnett said after Boston held the Central Division-leading Pacers to a season-low 31.8 percent shooting. “We needed a win. Tonight was the night to stop the bleeding. I felt like we did that.”
Rajon Rondo added 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Boston, which had lost eight of 10 to fall a season-worst three games below .500. Garnett also had seven rebounds and made a nice play to keep a ball from going out of bounds in the second quarter.
After going over the thickly padded courtside seats, Garnett couldn’t find a gap in them to get back on the court. He ran through the fans until he got to midcourt, then jumped onto and over the broadcast table to return to the game.
Things weren’t so comical by the fourth quarter, though. After three Pacers technical fouls, Garnett picked up a Flagrant 2 for hitting Tyler Hansbrough in the face while flailing with his arms.
The Celtics center said he was merely trying to knock the ball away. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he thought referee James Capers was trying to keep the game — which was long out of reach — under control.
“I think he was thinking, ‘I’m going to do him a favor,’ because it was getting chippy,” Rivers said.
Asked if Garnett apologized, Hansbrough said: “KG apologize? Are you from here?”
Hansbrough, who scored 19 points, said his immediate concern was his history of concussions; he didn’t notice whether Garnett had reached out.
“I took a shot I’m the head,” Hansbrough said. “I had to take care of myself. I wasn’t really concerned about retaliating at the time. I was just making sure I was OK.”
Coach Frank Vogel, who had one of Indiana’s three technicals, said the game was physical on both sides.
“It was only a matter of time before their defense bounced back and it bounced back in a big way tonight,” he said.
David West and Roy Hibbert had 10 rebounds apiece for the Pacers. Indiana had won six of seven and nine of 11. West and Paul George each went 4 for 18 from the floor.
Paul Pierce scored 13 for the Celtics, and rookie Jared Sullinger had seven points and 10 rebounds before fouling out for the fourth time in seven games.
Indiana led 16-15 after one, with Hibbert collecting five points and six rebounds in the opening quarter. The Celtics trailed 20-19 early in the second when they scored 17 of the next 20 points to open a double-digit lead. Boston made it a 15-point game before the end of the half but led 47-35 at the break.
The Pacers cut the deficit to 10 points with the first basket of the third quarter but Boston soon went on an 11-2 run to make it a 19-point game. It was 24 in the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Indiana’s Lance Stephenson was called for a technical foul for taunting after hitting a 3-pointer in the first quarter. Pierce missed the free throw. ... Vogel was called for a technical in the second quarter and West picked one up for shoving in the third. ... Pierce converted a four-point play in the second quarter, his first since 2008, according to Celtics.com. ... The Celtics used their ninth different starting lineup this season in 32 games.