|Ray Allen didn't let Rasho Nesterovic and the Pacers stand in his way as he scored 35 points. (Associated Press)|
INDIANAPOLIS - The Celtics (20-2) matched the franchise's best start to a season with last night's 122-117 overtime win over Indiana and can overtake the record set by the 1963-64 team and matched last year when they visit Washington Thursday.
On the way to a 59-21 record, the Celtics were 20-2 before falling to the Cincinnati Royals, 108-105, Dec. 14, 1963, a loss that ended a nine-game home winning streak. Last year, the Celtics won 20 of 22, then lost to Detroit, 87-85, Dec. 19, snapping a 12-game home winning streak.
The last Celtic loss was to Denver, 94-85, in Boston Nov. 14. They are 8-0 away from home since losing to Indiana, 95-79, in their road opener Nov. 1.
The Celtics do not fit the profile of a group prone to ulcers. They do not stifle emotions and they are good at releasing tensions, judging by an incident involving Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett and the team's reaction. Garnett scolded Davis and the reserves after they had squandered most of a 25-point advantage during a 93-78 win over Portland Friday. Davis went to the bench with a towel over his head and television close-ups revealed him near tears.
Within minutes of the game's end, though, the Celtics' high spirits had returned and the incident was on the way to becoming the subject of humor, according to coach Doc Rivers.
"It was not embarrassing at all," Davis said before last night's game. "It was a lot of passion. Sometimes it's not always good passion, sometimes it's bad, but you have to learn to funnel that emotion. I was mad at myself, I just want to win and we were up. It was lack of intensity that we were bringing on the floor. I was mad at myself because I had a big part of funneling the energy on the team and my teammates hold me accountable for that. We weren't as focused as we should have been. We were up, 25-30 points, there's no way they should be getting back in the game."
"It wasn't a big deal, really. It was made big by the way it looked. I didn't mind what KG was saying at all, what he was saying was absolutely right. It just should have been a quicker conversation, but, emotionally, at the time Baby [Davis] wanted to debate it, so he got emotional. The only thing I don't like is, and I told Baby this, that if another player has to spend time calming you down, then you're a distraction at that moment.
"We are an emotional team and I want us to be an emotional team but what I don't want to see is us being a distraction to each other while the game is going on. I'm not going to get into what he was saying, it was delivered in Kevin's way, but it wasn't bad. I heard part of it and he was just being honest. When Kevin talks, it's never a personal attack, it's always what the team and group should be doing. There are days when guys don't want to hear it and that was one of those days. That's all right, message delivered. They still love him - Baby. And there's been a lot of jokes since then in the locker room. After the game, they were all laughing about it. It's an emotional game and it happens, and Glen is very, very emotional."
Rivers's son, Jeremiah, who transferred from Georgetown to Indiana University, attended the game. Indiana recently received an NCAA verdict - three years' probation - related to recruiting violations. "That was great, it's over, it's in the past," Rivers said. "They are all happy it's over with. That chapter is over. It obviously will set them back but, if you had to pick a guy to rebuild a program, I don't know if you could pick a better guy than [new coach Tom Crean] - his energy level alone. It's going to take a lot of energy to do what has to be done." . . . Tony Allen [right ankle sprain] returned after missing two games, scoring 12 points. "I was able to play through the pain," Allen said, "and focus on defense."