The Indiana Pacers tangled with the Boston Celtics Friday night, coming off of four straight losses. Boston came into the game 1 and 3 on the season, but like Indiana, have given their opponents tough games even in losses. Once again the injury bug bit the Pacers. Before the game, it was announced that C.J. Miles would sit out due to a migraine. Depleting further an already thin wing rotation. The Pacers would lose in a close back and forth contest, 101-98 to Boston.
The Celtics controlled the tempo early, jumping out to a seven point after the first six minutes, thanks to 8 quick points from Kelly Olynyk. By the end of the quarter the Pacers had trimmed the deficit to four points thanks to a hot start from Roy Hibbert. Hibbert went 5 of 7 from the field with 10 points and 3 rebounds in the first quarter.
The second quarter was initially controlled by Boston as they took a 55-42 lead with only two and a half minutes remaining in the half. The Pacers would go on a 10-0 run, led by four points from Chris Copeland, to cut the lead to 55-52 at halftime.
Both teams shot well in the half. Boston finished the first half shooting 47.7 percent while the Pacers shot 50 percent from the field. Indiana did struggle from long range, shooting only 1 of 9 from behind the arc in the first half. Boston on the other hand knocked down five three pointers.
The Pacers would extend that run to 17-0 to start the third quarter before a Rajon Rondo steal and lay-up gave the Celtics their first points of the second half. Boston would follow with a 9-2 run of their own to take a 64-61 lead. After a back and forth quarter the Pacers would take a 75-73 lead into the fourth.
In an upsetting moment, Boston's Marcus Smart was taken off the court in stretcher early in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury. It appeared as though the injury occurred when Smart stepped on the foot of Lavoy Allen as he drove to the basket. Up to that point the rookie from Oklahoma State had scored 3 points and grabbed 2 rebounds. This is a tough loss for the Celtics, and for the NBA in general. You never want to see players leave the floor with serious injuries. Hopefully it was not as bad as it appeared and Smart makes a full recovery.
Perhaps spurred by seeing their teammate go down, the Celtics grabbed the lead back with a 12-5 run. Boston would hold an 88-82 lead with 6 minutes and 33 seconds remaining in the game. The Pacers would hang close and a pair of foul shots from Roy Hibbert would cut the Celtic lead to one with under a minute to play.
Chris Copeland grabbed a Rondo missed shot with 35 seconds remaining, giving the Pacers the ball with a chance to take the lead. Out of a timeout Donald Sloan would miss his lay-up attempt giving the ball back to the Celtics with 29 seconds left in the game.
Avery Bradley missed a mid-range jumper out of their timeout, but Brandon Bass would grab the rebound and knock down two free throws, giving the Celtics a three point lead. Donald Sloan would then be fouled by Avery Bradley on the ensuing in-bounds pass. Sloan made both free throws to draw the Pacers within one with 3 seconds to play. After two Avery Bradley free throws Indiana would turn the ball over on the in-bounds pass to give the Celtics the 101-98 win.
All five starters for Indiana finished in double figures. After a career night in Washington Donald Sloan poured in 15 points, while adding 4 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Chris Copeland got his first start of the season thanks to the absence of C.J. Miles. Copeland scored 17 points, but went 0 for 4 from three point range. Seeing Copeland do all his scoring from inside the arc was certainly strange. Solomon Hill had another solid game. He looked more confident than ever, especially with his jump-shot. Hill contributed 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting, including a pair of three pointers.
Roy ended up with a double-double. Scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. His frontcourt mate Luis Scola also played well, adding 11 points and 8 rebounds. Lavoy Allen was fantastic off the bench dropping 12 points, and collecting 7 rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
Jared Sullinger led the way for the Celtics. Sullinger ended up with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Rajon Rondo was not his dominant self, but still finished with 8 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
The Pacers have no time to dwell on the loss. They face the Washington Wizards tomorrow night back at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It will be their fourth game in five days. Indiana's record now sits at 1-5 as they await the return of several injured players.