The Indiana Pacers closed strong against the Boston Celtics to come away with a key home win. The Pacers trailed 77-76 early in the fourth, but responded by outscoring Boston 15-4 over the next five and a half minutes. Indiana struggled early, but their defense helped limit the offensive effectiveness of the Celtics, keeping them in the game and in the lead for much of the first half.
The Celtics shot 38.3% on the night, the Pacers holding them to a rare night under 100. Boston thrived on the glass with 17 offensive rebounds, giving them plenty of extra opportunities to make a game of it. Indiana was turnover prone early, but finished with 14 on the game, but did allow 15 points off of those turnovers. Late game free throw misses kept Indiana from recording a double figure victory, but it was important for Indiana to open their home stand with a win.
Paul George struggled early, picking up a poor second foul in the first quarter, but came alive in the third quarter to lead Indiana with a game high 25 points. George had five key points late to help sink the dagger into the Celtics. George had seven rebounds and four steals on the night. He did have three turnovers with Monta Ellis committing four of his own. Ellis did play solid himself with 16 points on 5-12 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists.
Jordan Hill led the bench unit with 15 points as there were solid efforts all around. Lavoy Allen came up with crucial rebounds throughout the second half totaling seven, and a big first half by Joe Young and head's up play by Solomon Hill helped the Pacers bench to a 33-32 edge over Boston's as Rodney Stuckey pitched in seven. With the starters, Ian Mahinmi had 13, being a big part of Indiana's struggling offense early in the game.
Indiana struggled containing Isaiah Thomas in the third quarter, but held him scoreless until the final seconds of the fourth with the game out of hand. Thomas had 21 for Boston. The win pulls Indiana to within three games of Boston in the third seed while Indiana still remains in seventh. It also gives Indiana a 3-1 series victory, lending them the head-to-head advantage if the three game gap should continue to close.
The difficult stretch of Indiana's eight of nine at home opened with a win, but a home game against potential first round opponent Toronto Raptors on Thursday will give the blue and gold another tall task.