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Celtics notebook

Strength gaining

Team is pumped despite late arrival

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / January 28, 2012
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Forget about being old and tired. The Celtics had plenty of stamina and strength last night, less than 24 hours after a difficult game in Orlando, to win their fourth straight, defeating the Pacers, 94-87.

“We got in at 3:30,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “You know, it’s funny. I asked all the guys, they basically said they went straight to bed, because none of the coaches did. But I thought we had unbelievable energy.

“I thought there were stretches where you could see, coming out of the beginning of the third, you could see they were going to try to run us out of the gym. You could see the energy that they wanted to play with.

“And we thought the key to the game for us . . . we wanted to take as much of the transition game away from them as possible.’’

The Celtics also compensated for injuries to Ray Allen (left ankle), Keyon Dooling (hip pointer), and Rajon Rondo (right wrist). All three could return for tomorrow’s game against Cleveland, Rivers said.

Bradley a gamer

The more injuries the Celtics have suffered, the better they seem to be playing.

Among the mantras: be thankful to experience adversity early in the season. And the problems have forced the Celtics to give minutes to reserves Avery Bradley, E’Twaun Moore, Sasha Pavlovic, and Chris Wilcox - all of whom have made significant contributions to the winning streak.

Bradley again hounded the opposing point guard into a mediocre performance, holding the Pacers’ Darren Collison to 8 points on 3-for-10 shooting, while Wilcox had 14 points and six rebounds. Moore totaled 22 points in his first 12 appearances, then scored 16 points against the Magic Thursday night. Moore had 4 points in 16 minutes last night.

“Avery has been our best player,’’ Allen said before the game. “He’s had an effective game from Steve Nash to Jameer Nelson, John Wall - that pressure has taken teams out of what they want to go do offensively. They can’t run their stuff, and we end up pushing out the elbows further.

“I don’t know if [Bradley] realizes it. I’ve seen [Nelson] during his career and it’s almost like he’s playing back on his heels. It’s a lesson, because we talk about the strength of our bench. But nobody, if you don’t play, in any sport, is going to have confidence unless you are able to have minutes.’’

Crying foul

Mickael Pietrus received a flagrant-1 foul late in the game in a clash with Paul George.

“To me that wasn’t like even a flagrant,’’ Pietrus said. “He was trying to go to the basket and I was just trying to foul him and they try and make a big deal out of it. It was just a foul - I got fouled like that before, so I didn’t say anything, just move on. I don’t know why they make a big deal out of a small thing. I’m glad we got the win, that’s most important, and come back strong [tomorrow against Cleveland].’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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