“The losing streak is over as the Celtics literally steal this win over the Pacers!”
That was how Mike Gorman described the ending of Boston’s 103-94 home win over Indiana, which stopped a four-game skid, put them back over the .500 mark (20-19), and perhaps restored some of their mojo.
Trailing 92-89 and under three minutes to play, the Celtics scored their next eight points off four steals and breakaway baskets, by Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Marcus Smart and Crowder again. After Paul George missed a three for the Pacers, Isaiah Thomas drove for a layup in traffic that put the Celts up 99-94 with 31 seconds left. Indy resorted to hero ball threes that didn’t drop, and IT made four free throws to close it out. The Celts scored the last 12 points of the game.
Johnson had probably his best game with Boston, posting 14 points, a season-high 18 rebounds (eight offensive) and an unexpected six assists. Thomas was the high scorer with 28 points, followed by Crowder tying his career high with 25 points on 11-15 shooting. George had 23 for the Pacers.
After falling behind 8-0 at the start, Brad Stevens called a timeout, then the Celts went on a 17-2 run highlighted by three straight threes, two by IT and one by Jae. The run extended to 26-6 before the Pacers closed the quarter with a 10-2 run. Celtics led, 28-24, at the buzzer. IT had 11 points and Jae added nine, while Amir grabbed nine boards.
The game of runs continued in the second quarter. Boston went ahead, 40-28, Indy closed to within one point, then Crowder scored 10 straight to help the Cs go to the locker room with a 57-49 advantage. Jae dominated Paul George (4 points) in the half, making eight of nine from the field, including three treys, for 19 points. The Celtics shot 22-45 from the field, including 7-15 from the arc.
After the effective first half, the third-quarter blues returned. The Pacers turned up their intensity and the Cs were slow to respond. George woke up when he hit a three after Indiana had grabbed three straight offensive boards to keep a possession alive. That led to George scoring 14 straight for Indy, including a 31-footer to beat the shot clock off a broken play. The Celts still led, 78-67, but the Pacers then closed the quarter with a 9-0 run, drawing within 78-76. All told in the period, George scored 17 points on 5-7 from the field (two treys) and 5-7 from the line.
In the fourth, it looked like Boston was going to give away another close one. Jordan Hill had six points by posting up Kelly Olynyk, and the Pacers briefly took a late lead after trailing almost the entire game. But Indy was 0-5 from the arc in the quarter, and literally threw away the game with their late turnovers.
Celtics forced the Pacers into three 24-second violations.
Olynyk had 11 points in just 15 minutes off the bench.
After allowing huge points in the fourth quarter during their losing streak, the Cs held Indy to 18 in the final frame.
Sullinger replaced Olynyk in the starting lineup, but had just four points and three rebounds in 20 minutes (still managed to be +12, however).
Avery Bradley continued to struggle with his shot: 5-17 and 0-4 from deep.
Evan Turner: zero points on 0-5 shooting, 0-2 on threes.
Celtics wore their ugly Parquet Pride sleeved jerseys, while Pacers sported their Hickory High throwbacks. The contrast was bizarre.
Stealing the win
- Shooting: Pacers 37-91 total and 5-30 on threes, Celtics 40-90 and 9-26
- Points in the Paint: Pacers 48 (24/39), Celtics 52 (26/48)
- 2nd Chance Points: Pacers 10 (3/10), Celtics 16 (7/11)
- Fast Break Points: Pacers 9 (2/2), Celtics 23 (9/10)