Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by Sports Xchange) – – Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas acknowledges that he has a flair for the dramatic. Thomas scored 28 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and Boston defeated the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Thursday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse”Fourth quarter ain’t for everybody,” Thomas said. “That’s when it really matters. I just embrace the opportunity. I love the fourth quarter. I love when the game is close. I want to be that type of guy. I just do what I have always done, I guess.
“Coach (Brad) Stevens just kept saying, “Keep firing away, because we’re getting all the shots we want.” We kept at it, stayed the course, and that’s what it’s all about. If we get stops and get out in transition, we’re a tough team to beat.”
Boston (17-12) won its fourth in a row, sealing it with two free throws from Thomas and two from Jae Crowder during the final 14.9 seconds after Indiana (15-16) closed to within 105-102 on two C.J. Miles free throws with 19 seconds to play.
Jeff Teague had a season-high 31 for Indiana, which lost its second straight. Paul George and Miles each had 19 for the Pacers, and Thaddeus Young added 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Pacers shot 42.7 percent.
Crowder and Avery Bradley each scored 15 for Boston, which shot 41.3 percent. Boston clinched the season series, having won twice at Indiana during the season’s first two months. The teams play once more — in March in Boston.
“We moved the ball for the most part,” Stevens said. “We tried to find the right shots, and I thought Avery’s defense on Paul George was terrific, especially giving up some inches. I felt like we were getting great looks.”
Miles’ 3-pointer and two free throws from Teague sliced the Celtics’ lead to 85-80 with 6:21remaining. A driving layup by Thomas pushed Boston’s advantage to 95-88 with 3:10 to play.
Teague had a 16-point third quarter, but Boston led 77-67 through 36 minutes, getting to the rim with relative ease.
“I tried to be more aggressive in the second half, score when I had opportunities and get everyone involved,” Teague said. “But we didn’t take good care of the ball, and that hurt us.”
Two Al Horford free throws with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter capped an 8-0 Celtics run and pushed the Boston lead to 63-49.
The Celtics led 51-40 at half, outscoring the Pacers 29-9 in the second quarter, including a 17-0 run to begin the second period. Indiana made only 3 of 21 second-quarter shots.
“Their 17-0 run in the second quarter happened very quickly,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. “They spread the floor and got a mix of 3-pointers and two-pointers. But we needed to play with a greater sense of urgency. The biggest thing to me was our sloppy play. Having 19 turnovers is a very high number.”
Crowder had 11 first-half points, including a 3-pointer with one second left in the first half. Thomas had eight points and eight assists.
George led Indiana with 13 points and four rebounds, and Myles Turner and Teague each had eight.
Boston shot only 40.9 percent in the first half, and Indiana shot 33.3 percent.The Pacers turned the ball over 12 times during the first 24 minutes.
NOTES: The Pacers were without G Monta Ellis (right groin strain) and G Rodney Stuckey (sore left hamstring). … Glenn Robinson III continues to start at guard in place of the injured Ellis. … Indiana was playing its third game in four nights, losing Tuesday night at New York after beating Washington on Monday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. … The Celtics rank third in assists (24.6) and fifth in turnovers (12.4). … The Pacers are second in opponents turnovers (15.8) and third in free throw percentage (80.7). … Until a 105-99 victory on Nov. 12, Boston had lost five of six in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. … Boston G Isaiah Thomas was coming off a career-best 44 points in Tuesday’s victory at Memphis, needing only 16 field goal attempts to score those 44.