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Bynum makes strong debut for Pacers

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Bynum, a 7-foot center who had never previously played for the Indiana Pacers, put on his size 18 sneakers and dominated the night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The first time he got the ball, he rose above the masses for a thunderous dunk.

By the time he was through, Bynum, who won NBA championships in 2009 and 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers, had a game-high 10 rebounds and hit 3-of-4 shots from the field for eight points in the Pacers’ 94-83 victory on Tuesday night over the Boston Celtics.

“He’s a real good basketball player,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel, who decided after Monday’s practice that Bynum and his injured knees were ready to play. “He’s here for a reason.”

Forward David West scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Pacers, halting the team’s losing streak at four. Forward Paul George and guard George Hill each added 12 points for the Pacers (47-17), who avoided their first five-game losing streak in more than two years.

Forward Jared Sullinger led Boston (22-42) with 17 points. Center Kris Humphries added 15 points as the Celtics lost for the first time in three games. Guard Rajon Rondo, who had 18 assists on Sunday against Detroit, was held to eight points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field and eight assists.

The star of the night was Bynum, who began the year with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was on the roster of the Chicago Bulls for a day and spent the last five weeks trying to work his knees into playing condition. He had not played since being traded from the Cavaliers in early January.

If there was any question about his health, Bynum answered it with his dunk less than a minute after he entered the game with 4:21 left in the first quarter.

“To put it into perspective,” Bynum said with a smile after the game, “I think the tallest guy they had was 6-2 (at the time of the dunk).”

Bynum had a basket, rebound and assist in a 10-2 run during the first quarter that gave Indiana a six-point lead. He hit his first two shots from the floor.

“He’s solid,” West said. “He’s a big man. He has a presence. They were double-teaming him on the catch, which is rare.”

Even so, the Celtics rallied from a 15-point deficit and nearly overtook the Pacers in the final quarter. Sullinger scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and Rondo had four assists.

The Celtics pulled within one point three different times before Pacers guard Lance Stephenson scored three baskets in less than three minutes. His hot hand fueled an 11-4 Indiana run that put the Pacers up 88-80 with 2:22 remaining.

“It’s a great defensive team and when George and Stephenson hit the shots that they hit, it’s hard to overcome that,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk said, “They’re tough, they’re big and they take up a lot of space. Late in the game, they made shots and we missed shots. I thought we did a great job with Rondo coming off screens and dragging guys out on the floor and then attacking the glass. We had success doing that.”

The Celtics were outrebounded 43-41, but Humphries and Sullinger each had nine boards.

The Pacers, who lead the NBA in team defense but struggled in that area through their season-worst four-game losing streak, got back to playing strong defensively against the Celtics. They allowed just 40 points in the first half and held the Celtics to 35 percent shooting from the field in the game.

“Just trying to get our mojo back,” West said. “Get confidence about ourselves back. We’ve had some pretty tough losses during this stretch. Obviously, one game is not going to magically flip the switch, but it’s a start. We did some really good things defensively that we can build on for the next game.”

NOTES: Pacers C Andrew Bynum was activated for the first time since Indiana acquired him as a free agent on Feb. 1. His activation by coach Frank Vogel comes at a time when backup C Ian Mahinmi was kept out of action with a bruised left rib. … Pacers G C.J. Watson missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right elbow. … Since returning to the Boston lineup on Jan. 31 after missing more than a year with a torn ACL, G Rajon Rondo has averaged 8.8 assists per game. He had 18 assists on Sunday in a 118-111 win over Detroit. … Celtics G Avery Bradley missed his 12th consecutive game with a sore right ankle. He did not make the trip to Indy.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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