BOSTON — The Celtics played their second game in two nights Wednesday, and it showed.
After a rousing win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, Boston fell flat against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden, committing several crucial turnovers down the stretch in a 102-91 loss.
The Celtics made just 32 field goals on 76 attempts. Evan Turner led Boston with 20 points, Jared Sullinger tallied his second consecutive double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Isaiah Thomas (14) and David Lee (13) both reached double figures.
Paul George killed the C’s for the second time in eight days, scoring a game-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting.
Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson
Boston’s starting unit has fallen into a hole in nearly every game this season, but Wednesday’s starters kept the C’s afloat early.
After falling into a 12-point deficit Tuesday night, the Celtics’ starting five trailed the Pacers by just one before head coach Brad Stevens began making substitutions.
This time, however, the bench couldn’t keep up, allowing C.J. Miles (11 first-quarter points) and the Pacers to score 32 points on 52.4 percent shooting through the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics were struggling to get stops in the second quarter, so they just started fouling Ian Mahinmi instead.
Boston sent the Pacers big man — a career 59.7 percent free throw shooter — to the foul line six times in the the second quarter, many of them on intentional fouls.
The ploy actually kind of worked. Mahinmi hit just three of those six attempts, and the normally fast-paced Celtics plodded along to erase their early deficit and enter halftime down by just two points.
The game slowed down to a crawl in the second half
After scoring nine quick points — six from Turner — to start the half, the Celtics hit exactly two field goals in the last 10 minutes of the third frame.
They managed to stay in the game thanks to a barrage of whistles, however. Boston shot 19 free throws in the third quarter alone and made 12 of them. Indiana went 8 for 11 in the frame and got a burst of offense from George to take a seven-point lead into the fourth.
R.J. Hunter scored five quick points to start the final frame, but the C’s turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter while getting outscored 21-17 to seal their fate.
Marcus Smart played his first game in 10 days and showed plenty of rust on the offensive end.
Smart, who missed Boston’s last three games with a sprained left big toe, came off the bench and scored just eight points on 1-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts but went 6-for-8 from the line.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Thomas showed off some fancy footwork on a stepback jumper in the first half:
The Celtics get little reprieve, as they’ll face one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts to a foul call during the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden.