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C's lose 12th in row, can tie mark tonight.

Byline: Cliff Brunt

INDIANAPOLIS - The Boston Celtics went to Indiana guaranteeing their three-week losing streak would end and went home with more disappointment.

The Pacers beat the Celtics, 103-96, last night to hand Boston its 12th straight loss.

Boston guard Delonte West made the guarantee in a story published yesterday in the Boston Globe and Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal took exception.

West started and played only 12 minutes because of flu-like symptons.

"When players like Delonte come in and guarantee wins, it's a motivator," O'Neal said. "I didn't really see him at all in the second half. It's a hard way to guarantee a victory when you have the flu. Don't put your team out there bad if you're not going to be out there to help them."

The Celtics are two defeats short of breaking the franchise record for consecutive losses. They can tie the mark of 13 at home tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Even with the extra motivation, Indiana nearly blew a 20-point fourth-quarter lead. The Celtics outscored the Pacers, 40-27, in the fourth quarter.

Boston coach Doc Rivers said coming close didn't make him feel much better.

"I keep hearing these comments from other players on other teams and other coaches that the guys are still playing hard," Rivers said. "That's nice, but I would love to play hard and win a game."

The Pacers won for the fourth time in five games.Indiana led, 76-56, at the end of the third quarter, but Boston chipped away at the lead throughout the final period. Boston's Gerald Green hit a 3-pointer to cut Indiana's lead to 100-96 with 26 seconds left.

Tinsley made the second of two free throws with 25.7 seconds left to push the lead to five, then he made two more free throws with 8.9 seconds remaining to end the threat.

Al Jefferson led the Celtics with 15 points and 17 rebounds, his 20th double-double of the season.

Indiana, the worst shooting team in the league, shot a season-high 53.6 percent from the field. Tinsley scored a season-high 28 points and Jermaine O'Neal added 25 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 31, 2007
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