The Indiana Pacers dug deep in the fourth quarter to pick up a big road win against the Boston Celtics. A game the Pacers once controlled in the first half slowly slipped from their grasp in the third quarter, setting up the Celtics to take their first lead of the game midway through the fourth.
The Pacers led by as many as 26 points in the first half, holding Boston to just 29% shooting. Unfortunately for Indiana, everything that went wrong for the Celtics early went right in the third quarter, leading them to outscore the Pacers 34-17, controlling the entirety of the game’s momentum after Terry Rozier banked in a buzzer-beating three to draw the Celtics to within four.
The fourth quarter became a slugfest with the Pacers nursing an 80-78 lead for three and a half minutes falling behind 85-84 with four minutes to go. The Pacers pushed back into the lead on a vicious Myles Turner putback dunk to tee off a 7-0 run in Winning Time to help the Pacers push towards the hard earned 97-91 victory.
Indiana got a sizable contribution from Turner, bouncing back from his two horrible performances in the past week. Turner scored 19 points on 6-11 shooting with a pair of threes, scoring six points in the final four minutes to help the Pacers close out the win. Turner also had seven rebounds and two blocks.
In the end, the Pacers may have ended up letting this one slip away if not for the play of Victor Oladipo, who had another elite performance, finishing with a 35 point, 10 rebound double double. Oladipo also had five steals, which helped the Pacers in the first half get out in transition against the Boston defense to build their 26-point lead.
In the second half, the game slowed down as Boston forced the Pacers to execute in the half court, Oladipo came through time and time again to give Indiana some much needed buckets. Even the two times the Pacers surrendered the lead in the fourth quarter were met immediately with Oladipo buckets. He also put in two big layups to cap Indiana’s game winning 7-0 run.
The Pacers received contributions from everyone who took the floor tonight, including the only Pacer to not score on the night, Cory Joseph. Joseph went scoreless on 0-6 shooting, but came up with a huge play off a Turner miss in the final minute to help secure the win.
Outside of Oladipo and Turner, only two other Pacers reached double figures; Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young each scoring 13. Bogdanovic’s scoring contributions in the second half were largely limited to the start of the third, which helped Indiana hold onto their 20-point advantage. He did hit a crucial technical free throw with Indiana up just one, big given Oladipo missed a technical shot earlier.
Young also came up big at the free throw line, icing the game with 26 seconds remaining and the Pacers leading by just four. Young entered the game shooting just 55% from the free throw line and not having hit both ends of a free throw trip since January 26, but Young’s steadiness was a fantastic encapsulation of Indiana’s execution in the game’s final four minutes.
Young also had a game high 14 rebounds on a night the Pacers outrebounded Boston 53-38. The rebounding edge is nice, but slightly misleading. Boston’s horrendous shooting in the first half created numerous opportunities for the Pacers to dominate on the glass, yet it still resulted in 12 offensive rebounds, though the Pacers did manage to get the upper hand with 13, outscoring the Celtics 13-9 off of those rebounds.
Indiana only got 17 points off the bench, but still got big plays from everyone. Al Jefferson’s lone points came early in the fourth after Boston had cut the lead to two and Joe Young scored four to help the Pacers build their first half advantage. Lance Stephenson and Domantas Sabonis combined for 11, but both struggled in the second half. Sabonis especially missed a pair of bunnies in the fourth with the Celtics threatening, though the two did come up with 13 rebounds.
This was a big win for the Pacers, not only securing a road win against the top team in the East, but in keeping pace with the frantic East playoff race. The Pacers move to 31-25 on the season, picking up their 31st win 18 days ahead of last year’s pace, but also move to within a half game of fourth place, currently sitting in sixth.
With the win, the Pacers are also an East best 7-3 in their last 10 games (sharing that record with new first place Toronto), which can hopefully speak to their focus heading into the last week before the All-Star Break, in which they’ll face New York and Brooklyn. Indiana’s next game will be against the Knicks on Sunday, a Hickory night at Bankers Life FIeldhouse.