The Boston Celtics overcame a slow start to pick up their fourth straight victory and third straight on the road Thursday night with a 109-102 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Isaiah Thomas had another strong performance in the fourth quarter as he poured in 14 of his 28 points in the final stanza and added nine assists to boot. His counterpart, Jeff Teague, dropped 31 points on 9-of-15 shooting but got little help from star Paul George, who was hounded all night by Avery Bradley.
The Celtics got good contributions from their role players as Avery Bradley (15 points, 6 rebounds), Jae Crowder (15 points, 5 rebounds), Marcus Smart (12 points), Amir Johnson (11 points, 6 rebounds), and Kelly Olynyk (11 points) all scored in double figures to make sure they continued their winning streak. The Celtics improve to 11-3 when they have their entire starting five healthy.
Here’s how it went down.
Isiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford.
The Celtics trailed by nine entering the second quarter as they surrendered a 17-7 run to the Pacers over the final 6:54 of the first quarter. Brad Stevens elected to open the second quarter with a unique lineup of Kelly Olynyk, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko, and it paid dividends. The C’s opened the quarter on a 17-0 run, due in large part to a strong defensive effort that forced five turnovers in the first five minutes.
George finally got the Pacers on the board in the quarter but the damage had been done as the Celtics turned a nine-point deficit into an eight-point advantage. The Celtics were able to stretch their lead to 11 heading into the break, outscoring the Pacers 29-9 in the quarter, despite missing 18 3-pointers in the half as the Pacers shot a lowly 3-for-19 in the quarter.
CONTAINING PAUL GEORGE
Despite giving up eight inches to the Pacers’ superstar, Bradley frustrated George all night. The Pacers’ star was held to 19 points on 5-for-16 shooting and turned the ball over five times. For the game, George had a plus/minus of minus-4 and did not hit from 3-point range. George went 1-for-3 with 4 points, 3 turnovers, and a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
Bradley, whose defense is well documented, made it tough for George to get to his preferred spots on the floor. Crowder and Smart also helped to fluster the all-star, when Bradley had to sit down with four fouls in the third quarter. Whoever the Celtics through at George, proved up to the task of making life difficult for the dynamic scorer.
SURVIVING THE FOURTH QUARTER
The C’s entered the fourth quarter up by 10 but had to sweat out an onslaught from Pacers guard C.J. Miles, who scored all 19 of his points in the quarter. Miles and Teague helped pull the Pacers to within four when Thomas was resting but were unable to overtake the C’s once Isiah Thomas reentered the game. Miles and Thomas went back and forth but Thomas answered each of Miles buckets with one of his own, scoring a variety of ways to keep the Pacers at arms length.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Center Al Horford didn’t give his best performance but he found a way to impact the game in the third quarter.
The Celtics will return home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots the ball over Indiana Pacers forward Myles Turner (33) in the first quarter of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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