Final, Pacers 102-97: Jeff Green scored a game-high 27 points, while Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries both posted double-doubles, but it wasn’t good enough for a Boston Celtics victory.
Paul George scored 25 points for the Indiana Pacers (45-13), who outscored the Celtics 26-19 in the fourth quarter. The Celtics (20-40) only had a chance because Humphries delivered a massive third quarter, with most of his 18 points and 10 rebounds coming in that quarter.
Fourth quarter, :46.3, Pacers 101-94: The Celtics made it interesting for a while, but in the end it looks like the Pacers will do what good teams do: Put away lesser teams, even on off nights.
George curled off a screen before draining a wing three to just about seal it and the Celtics had a fruitless possession. It looks like loss No. 40 is just about in the books for Boston.
Fourth quarter, 2:38, Pacers 94-92: Sully and Bass are scrapping, but nobody on either team can seem to buy a basket. Bass has missed two wide-open jumpers, while Sully has just started to find his stroke — getting his shooting mark all the way up to a whole 4-for-12.
If shots are at a premium, Boston will need plays like the hustle offensive board Sullinger just supplied, although he paid the price. He got hit hard and laid on the court for a few seconds before hitting both free throws.
If you’re confused as to how the Celtics lost three points, a Rondo trey from earlier in the quarter was reviewed and found to have occurred after the shot clock expired.
Fourth quarter, 6:04, game tied 88-88: The buckets have become few and far between. It’s tough to tell who that favors — the Pacers who love to play that way, or the Celtics who can only knock off a better team by playing ugly.
Four points have been scored in the last two minutes, not that the fans seem to mind. The TD Garden crowd just sounds pumped that their team is in the game in the fourth quarter against the top team in the NBA.
Fourth quarter, 8:06, game tied 86-86: Humphries has gotten a lot of love tonight because what he’s doing is unusual. We should point out that Rondo has been stellar, though, as usual.
Rondo has 12 points, nine assists and five rebounds. He’s led an unconventional attack with some gimmicky lineups all night, like the current five-man group of himself, Bayless, Johnson, Hump and Sully.
He’s in attack mode, and along with an aggressive mindset by Green — who has a game-high 24 points — the Celtics are the more proactive club.
Fourth quarter, 9:27, Celtics 83-80: The Celtics are still fighting — maybe a bit too much.
Sullinger has not been fond of Luis Scola’s hands-on defense, which earned a quick side-out for the Celtics on their previous possession. but after a three by Rondo, Sully was whistled for shoving Scola down on the way back up the court.
End of third quarter, Celtics 78-76: What did Humphries take at halftime? Whatever it was, it’s made him dominant.
Hump erupted for 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in the third quarter, sparking the Celtics to a 22-10 run to end the frame. After Green made the jumper to initially pull Boston even at 74-74, Humphries later delivered his own jumper to know up the score at 76-76, then slammed home a miss at the buzzer to give the Celtics the lead.
Third quarter, 4:45, Pacers 68-65: Watch out, Indy. The Celtics aren’t afraid of your record tonight.
Kris Humphries cans an elbow jumper to complete a 6-0 run by Boston to close the gap to three points. The Celtics are engaged, with Hump nodding his head and pumping his fist after his bucket. Even Gerald Wallace, who is out of the year with a knee injury, is standing and participating in the huddle.
Third quarter, 6:10, Pacers 68-59: Both teams are beginning to get a bit perturbed at the officials. Some of the calls have been, um, creative.
The highlight might have been a goaltending call on Humphries, who clearly blocked a layup attempt by Stephenson before it hit the backboard or started its downward arc. Rondo, Bass and even multiple players on Indy have started to question the refs with a little more vehemence, taking away from what should be an entertaining and competitive game.
Halftime, Pacers 55-48: Here’s something odd. Rondo and Hibbert were issued double technicals after Rondo interfered with Hibbert trying to help Green off the floor. Green was knocked down while attempting a halfcourt buzzer-beater, and Rondo didn’t take kindly to the opponent helping up his teammate — even if it was two Georgetown alums.
Rondo is dribbling and dishing, racking up six assists with only one turnover so far. But he’s also cost the Celtics a couple of buckets by passing up sure layups to kick the ball back out to teammates.
Granted, those teammates were open for jump shots, but no jump shot is preferable to a layup.
Green and Bass have benefited from Rondo’s distributing with 16 points and 10 points, respectively. But the Pacers are dominating inside, even with their “little” guys. George has 15 points and Stephenson has 12, giving the grind-it-out Pacers a post presence no matter who has the ball.
Second quarter, 3:04, Pacers 49-41: The Pacers’ work down low is just getting to be too much for the Celtics. It’s not Hibbert and West who are doing most of the damage, either. Turner and Stephenson are actively posting Johnson, Rondo and Bayless, taking advantage of their extra length and weight against the smaller defenders.
Indy now holds a 24-8 advantage on points in the paint. They’ve also narrowed the rebounding gap to 19-17.
Second quarter, 6:42, Pacers 42-39: Green hasn’t been efficient, but he’s shooting in volume and it’s getting him results. Green has 10 points, but on just 3-for-8 shooting. Still, it might be just what the Celtics need.
Green is being aggressive, which has helped him get to the line three times, and he’s confidently firing up 3-pointers. (He has two so far.) If Green takes the challenge against George, he’ll probably lose the individual battle, but the Celtics might be better off just because they’ll get a fully engaged Green on their side.
Second quarter, 8:23, Pacers 38-35: When people say they think the Pacers can finally knock off Miami this season, Lance Stephenson is a big reason why.
The unpredictable swingman is capable of going off at any time. He’s so herky-jerky, he’s almost unguardable at times. Jerryd Bayless is finding that out the hard way.
Stephenson has burst out 10 points, spinning and darting to get to his spots. He’s earned two trips to the foul line, too. Bayless reacted in disbelief, but they were fouls.
Indy fans — and Heat haters — only hope Stephenson can do the same to Dwyane Wade in June.
End of first quarter, Pacers 28-27: Paul George would like to remind you that he’s sort of a beast.
George has owned the game so far, almost single-handedly keeping his team ahead of a surprisingly spry Celtics squad. He has 13 points, three rebounds and three steals in the early going, hitting five of his eight shots.
The rest of Indy’s starters are 6-for-15 combined from the field.
George’s effort is needed because Rondo and Bass have made Boston an unusually tough customer. Bass is the only other player in the game with double-digit points, scoring 10, while Rondo has five assists and no turnovers. Chris Babb also made his debut; he did not record a statistic in two minutes of action.
The Celtics are outrebounding the Pacers, 13-8, helping them offset a 14-4 Indy advantage on points in the paint.
First quarter, 6:25, Celtics 13-12: Teams seldom try to challenge the Pacers inside because of the presence of Roy Hibbert. The Celtics aren’t show any such hesitation.
The Celtics are attacking the hoop, off the dribble and off the pass, and have forced the Pacers onto their heels early. Brandon Bass has taken advantage of the space opened up by his teammates’ aggressiveness to knock down three early shots, and Rajon Rondo has assisted two of Boston’s five baskets.
6:27 p.m.: Jeff Green will be in the starting lineup for the 60th time this season, while Brandon Bass will also suit up for his 60th game. Those two have been the only constants in Brad Stevens’ lineup, as he’ll stick with the starting five combination from Wednesday’s game against the Hawks.
Jared Sullinger is ready to play, but he will come off the bench. The projected starters appear below.
2:26 p.m.: At least the Celtics won’t be the only ones dealing with injuries tonight. Point guard George Hill will miss the game for the Pacers with a bruised shoulder, according to the Indianapolis Star.
C.J. Watson will start in Hill’s place.
11 a.m. ET: After going through practice on Friday, Jared Sullinger should return tonight for the Boston Celtics — and not a moment too soon.
Sullinger has missed the last three games with a concussion, so the team is playing it safe with the second-year big man’s head injury. Provided Sullinger woke up this morning with no negative effects, he will play against the Indiana Pacers, coach Brad Stevens told reporters Friday.
Sullinger would come back just as the Celtics lose Gerald Wallace for the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus. Guard Avery Bradley is also likely to be out at least through next week with a sprained ankle. Rookie Kelly Olynyk is also doubtful against the Pacers with a sprained toe. Not to be left out, center Vitor Faverani could also go under the knife for a knee procedure.
So, yeah, the Celtics (20-39) are kind of a mess. It’s a good thing the Pacers (44-13) don’t have the best record in the NBA or anything.
Oh, wait …
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m.