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INDIANAPOLIS — On a play usually reserved for Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green attempted the final shot Wednesday night and he helped seal perhaps the Celtics’ biggest win of the season.
Green has emerged as a primary offensive weapon in the past two months, but with the Celtics having possession with 23.6 seconds left and the game tied at 81 against the Pacers, the forward usually would have expected Pierce or Garnett to take the final shot.
Instead, Garnett decoyed off the pick-and-roll and found Green with a high pass that he gathered in. Green scored with 0.5 seconds left for Boston’s 83-81 win. Not only did Green flourish in a critical time, but having his name called was a sign of confidence from coach Doc Rivers.
“It builds confidence, especially with the playoffs right around the corner,” Green said. “Now at this point in time of the season, that confidence will be [useful]. You know all the attention is going to be focused on Kevin and Paul, but with the confidence that we’ll have going into the playoffs as far as the end of games, I think Doc trusts that we can make plays and help and take some of the pressure off Kevin and Paul.
“I wanted the ball, but I had to be a great decoy like always. All the attention went to Paul and Kev, and Kev made a great pass over the double team.”
With his 10 rebounds, Garnett passed Wes Unseld for 10th on the all-time NBA list. Garnett (13,774) entered the game needing six to pass the former Bullets big man. Garnett also recently passed Hakeem Olajuwon on the all-time list.
“Are you serious?” Garnett asked. “Those are huge names, names I look up to. I’m kind of lost for words. I’m flattered. Hard work does pay off.”
Granger sits out
Pacers forward Danny Granger will miss at least a week with left knee soreness after playing the past five games.
Granger missed Indiana’s first 55 games with patellar tendinosis but had returned to average 15 minutes per game and 5.4 points. He played just the first half Sunday against the Bulls and Indiana coach Frank Vogel declared him out Wednesday.
The Pacers had flourished without Granger, with Paul George filling the role as swingman and primary scorer, and were expected to improve with Granger’s return. A magnetic resonance imaging revealed no further damage, but the Pacers are being cautious.
“Some above-average soreness in his knee,” Vogel said. “No new injury or no new damage, just going to be precautionary and hold him out so we can reevaluate him. We knew what it was going to be, so obviously you hope it goes smoothly, hits the ground running and you never think about it again.”
The Pacers, like the Celtics without Rondo, had to adjust their schemes.
“You’ve just got to adjust, roll with it,” Vogel said. “Part of Danny being out early in the season was an increased urgency on the defensive end, which I think helped sharpen us on the defensive end.”
The Celtics are a dramatically different team without Rondo, winning 13 of 17 games since he was felled with a torn right ACL.
“You understand the plays Rondo makes, they are not going to make,” Vogel said. “I think they’re more different on the offensive end than the defensive end. They still get after it on the defensive end, [Garnett and Pierce] are like coaches or middle linebackers out there orchestrating everything. They’ve seen it all, done it all, they are as good as it gets.”
Getting a little rest
Despite not clinching Tuesday’s win over the 76ers in Philadelphia until the final minutes, Rivers was able to reduce the minutes for his three oldest players.
Garnett played 28 minutes (two fewer than his season average), Pierce logged 30 (four fewer), and Jason Terry played 26 (about two fewer). So after playing one game in just eight days, Rivers said he was not concerned about wearing his guys down — yet.
“We’re still going to rest guys every once in a while, Kevin, Paul, [Terry] maybe, but other than that we’re just plugging along,” the coach said.
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.