The Indiana Pacers fell short again late, letting the Boston Celtics come away with a win at home as Boston outscored Indiana 12-0 to close the game. The Celtics had four steals in the final 2:33, scoring eight breakaway points. The Pacers trailed most of the night, but fought their way into the lead in the fourth quarter, but squandered their opportunities, dropping them on the second night of a back-to-back.
Indiana had 20 turnovers, leading to 36 Boston points, more than sufficient in a close game with the Celtics exploding in fast break points, outscoring the Pacers 23-9. Paul George had a big third quarter as part of his 23, but turnovers in the third kept his explosion from helping the Pacers take advantage after a big first half from Boston helped them in control of the game.
While the Pacers nearly overcame their sloppy play all night, their complete collapse late simply fuels the team's narrative of being unable to compete in games late. In tonight's case, against a team that's also struggled heavily in late game situations, the Pacers left the game with egg on their faces. All night, however, the Pacers were leading up to a loss, between their turnovers and 5-29 three point shooting ("led" by C.J. Miles and Monta Ellis, who were a combined 0-14).
But despite holding a double digit lead for stretches, the Celtics were never firmly in control of the game until their energy and steals took over in the final three minutes. Indiana drops to 2-6 in second night of back-to-back games, but more importantly, continue to lose games in which the lead late in the fourth. The Pacers are stuck on a loop, every loss telling the exact same story, though at least tonight they were spared a loss in overtime.
The Pacers will host the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Washington has struggled on the season, but saw the return of Bradley Beal tonight, an invaluable asset for a team looking to turn their own fortunes around in the second half of the season, seeming to catch the Pacers at just the right time if Indiana can't figure out their late game collapses.