The Indiana Pacers lost in the most fitting way possible, failing to pull in two offensive rebounds in the waning seconds of overtime, losing a thrilling game to the Boston Celtics. Andrew Nembhard defended Jayson Tatum well at the three point line, forcing Tatum into an airball that sailed wide right.
The shot landed in Marcus Smart’s hands, giving him just enough time to get up a putback before the shot clock expired, hitting the rim. Nembhard had run himself out of the play on the block attempt, giving Tatum free range to the basket, following the miss perfectly for the dagger layup.
It was the 19th and 20th offensive rebound on the night for the Celtics, an effort that only the Indiana Pacers could put forth as the league’s worst rebounding team. Through the first half, the Celtics had nearly as many offensive boards as Indiana did total, but a scrappy Pacers performance still put them within striking distance at the break, trailing 68-58.
The Pacers trailed for much of the first half, but never let things get too out of hands. The first quarter ended on a patented Chris Duarte buzzer beater, drawing Indiana to within three heading into the second.
Duarte beats the buzzer to end the first!— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) February 24, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/IwE1NL7blP#Pacers pic.twitter.com/i0GtbJrIrS
Boston inched their lead higher in the quarter, leading by as many as 16 late in the half, though never quite able to deal a knockout blow, thanks in large part to the play of Myles Turner, who had seven in the quarter.
This angle is tough. https://t.co/aNFNCA9IUr pic.twitter.com/K3wBpUA2u8— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2023
Eight straight points late in the second helped the Pacers cut the lead in half, setting the table for a huge third quarter that flipped the game back in Indiana’s favor. Turner completed an and-one to open the third as Haliburton and Buddy Hield scored the next 10 for Indiana, giving the Pacers a 71-70 lead on a 13-2 run.
From there, the game would go over the top. The Pacers hit four straight threes, three coming from Turner, each one proving necessary to simply keep the lead as Boston locked in a response each and every time. Hield pushed the lead to four with back-to-back threes of his own, but the Celtics had seven straight in them to regain the lead.
A heated exchange between Haliburton and Marcus Smart raised the stakes a bit, but Indiana’s bench just didn’t have the firepower against Boston’s tonight, allowing Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White to score the final five of the period to take a 100-97 lead into the fourth.
The Pacers scored 39 points in the quarter, shooting 14-24 overall and 8-13 from three. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to carry that over onto the defensive side, allowing the Celtics to weather the storm perfectly, scoring 32 themselves. That bench play from Boston allowed them to push the advantage out to nine early in the quarter at 111-102 when the starters swiftly returned.
Turner found Duarte for a layup, kicking off a 9-0 Pacers run that featured Turner’s seventh three to tie things up at 111-111. Tatum responded with a three only to have Bennedict Mathurin tie things up with a three of his own. On the defensive end, Indiana finally got a stop when Aaron Nesmith stripped Smart on the switch, racing to the basket and finishing through Smart to put the Pacers back up 116-114.
the steal & the score for Aaron Nesmith. pic.twitter.com/QWLlKDyUu0— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 24, 2023
Jaylen Brown got in the action with a three of his own as Turner followed with a basket to give the a one point lead. The officials, seemingly unable to believe the Pacers had the lead, helped Boston settle things down with some free throws, regaining the lead as Brogdon pushed the lead to four on a wide open corner three.
Haliburton cut the lead to one on a three of his own as Hield was whistled for a foul against Brown on a three point shot. The chaotic stretch had Rick Carlisle use his challenge on the play, which while not productive in overturning the call, did prove valuable as the lengthy review set up Brown to miss two of his three shots at the line.
Haliburton tied things up at 125-125 after getting to the line himself, a score that would actually hold for the next minute and 41 seconds. Neither team had much going in the final possessions, with misses on both sides, Brown throwing the ball out of bounds, and Haliburton failing to seal the win on a challenged three at the buzzer.
It led to just the second overtime game of the year for Indiana and they took advantage, striking first to take the lead on a pair of Turner foul shots. That inability to get stops just kept happening as Smart tied things up, but once again Indiana locked in a response, this time courtesy of Mathurin, calmly stepping in his second three to give Indiana a three-point lead.
Mathurin would get caught foul Smart on a three point shot on the other end, a foul that would not only be his sixth, but lead to a technical on him as well. The four points flipped the lead back in Boston’s favor, eventually going up by three themselves. On the other end, Haliburton drove, whipping the ball to Turner in the corner, allowing him to connect on his career best eighth three, tying the game in the process.
Myles Turner is having a night for the #Pacers!— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) February 24, 2023
8️⃣ threes (new career-high)
4️⃣0️⃣ points (ties career-high)
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/IwE1NL7blP pic.twitter.com/arQrjgm7Qg
Time and time and time again, Boston had a response, scoring three themselves, but the Pacers finally managed to win a loose ball battle, retying the game on a Nesmith and-one.
Aaron Nesmith gets the and-one bucket to fall ️— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2023
Pacers-Celtics is tied in OT!
WATCH: https://t.co/0rrSPxOHD0 pic.twitter.com/lvSu0z5TCW
After trading points yet again, the game set tied at 138-138 when Haliburton fouled Tatum, giving the Celtics a two-point lead. The Pacers were a bit disheveled on the offensive end, failing to capitalize after finding Nesmith for a three point try. That would set up the deciding possession, which can be recounted all the way at the top of this particular recap, giving the Celtics a 142-138 lead with 10 seconds remaining, enough to hold on for the win.
It was a top notch game all around for both teams, a thrilling offensive showcase that totaled 280 points, the fourth highest on the year. It featured 14 ties and 22 lead changes, had a combined 40 three pointers, and both teams shooting above 50%, which begs the question: what if the Pacers got a stop?
They did better in the second half closing the rebounding gap, but still allowed 20 offensive boards, giving the Celtics 22 second chance points. They also struggled stopping the Celtics off of turnovers, getting outscored 27-17 there, a number that favored Indiana early. It also didn’t help that Boston’s bench minutes proved much more productive than Indiana’s, White and Brogdon combining for 41 points alone, giving them a 51-44 bench win, which is pretty nice when you can stagger both Tatum and Brown with the bench.
All of that may have ultimately kept the Pacers out of the win column tonight, but it didn’t do much to detract from the game overall. All three All-Stars were in All-Star mode tonight, Tatum and Brown combining for 61 points and 23 rebounds, while Haliburton finished with 22 and 14 assists, picking up three steals.
Surprisingly, only five of those dimes went to Turner, who had the best game of his career night, scoring a career high tying 40 points on an unbelievable 13-15 shooting, connecting on 8-10 from deep. While finishing with a 10 rebound double double, Turner completed the most efficient 40-point game ever on 110.6% true shooting.
Myles Turner just had the most efficient 40+ point game in NBA history.— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 24, 2023
40 points on 110.6% True Shooting
5-of-5 from two
8-of-10 from three
6-of-7 at the line
Somehow still, Turner wasn’t the focus down the stretch, failing to find the ball late in the fourth and overtime, despite scoring 12 in those two periods. That would sometimes go to Hield, who finished with 18 points and five boards, scoring 11 opposite Turner’s 13 in the third, hitting 3-5 from three.
Unfortunately, those would be the final points of the night for Hield, who missed on a pair of solid looks from three late. Mathurin helped minimize the absence of Hield’s scoring late with a solid outing of his own, scoring 19 points with seven rebounds and four assists. It was one of his best overall performances before fouling out in overtime, a disqualification that mattered as Indiana finished with just four double figure scorers.
Nesmith did offer up some great plays, scoring nine points with two steals. Nembhard meanwhile had just five, but looked much better early in the game than he had prior to the All-Star break. He did miss a late three, however, which made him hesitate just enough on a later possession, keeping Indiana off the scoreboard.
Off the bench, Theis scored eight, hitting a three and blocking two shots while Jordan Nwora showed some flashes, hitting a pair of threes himself. Duarte scored seven, including the buzzer beater to end the first while T.J. McConnell wrapped things up with four points and three assists.
The Pacers fall to 26-35 on the year with the loss, holding just a half game lead over the Orlando Magic for 12th in the East. That will set up a meeting between the two teams on Saturday, with the Magic hosting with a chance to tie the season series. It will be the first of four straight on the road for Indiana and 11 of 14 on the road, but seven of their next 11 opponents will be under .500, giving the Pacers a look at some potential wins in the first half of March.