The Pacers gave up 59 points in the second half, but Paul George is correct when he pointed to his team's effort to guard down the stretch making the difference in the 103-98 win.
"We played great defense and that turned into some easy offense for us," George said.
The Pacers were up just three points, 84-81, with 4:30 left in the game but were able to get enough stops to keep the Celtics stuck on 81 for nearly three minutes. The Pacers missed a few scoring opportunities themselves, but eventually both Jordan Hill and Lavoy Allen scored buckets to create some separation and when Paul George drained a corner three out of a timeout with about two minutes to play, the Pacers had a 10-point lead that would prove insurmountable.
Big buckets from the reserve big-man tandem of JHill and Lavoy made Frank Vogel look smart for riding his reserves through the end of the game instead of returning to starters Ian Mahinmi and Myles Turner. Unlike the rest of the playing rotation, the big men have been relatively healthy of late which gives them and Vogel a better feel for how they are playing and what combos are working.
The win gave the Pacers a strong start to a five-game homestand that has Toronto and Oklahoma City showing up at the Fieldhouse next. Both teams will be a bear but the remaining schedule should keep the Pacers battling from prime playoff positioning until the end of the regular season. The Pacers are in seventh place in the East but now just three games behind third place Boston and Miami. Beating the Celtics secured the tie breaker for the Pacers so the opportunity is there for a move up by the blue and gold.
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