Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.
The Boston Celtics were the beneficiaries of this adage Monday night, as miraculous late-game magic saved the C’s from an embarrassing loss to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Field House.
Boston jumped out to a 19-point lead in the first quarter, but Indiana hung tough and slowly but surely chipped away at the deficit before taking the lead late in the fourth quarter. The Pacers seemingly had the comeback win all but wrapped up with 10 seconds left, but a shocking steal and dunk from Terry Rozier lifted the C’s to a wild 112-111 win.
Kyrie Irving (30 points) and Al Horford (14 points, 10 rebounds nine assists) were two of five Celtics to score in double figures. Victor Oladipo posted a game-high 38 points, but his stellar performance ultimately wasn’t enough to lift the Pacers to a win.
With the loss, the Celtics fall to 26-7, while the Pacers improve to 17-14.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
HOT START IN THE HOOSIER STATE
The Celtics certainly did not look sluggish to start their third game in four nights. Boston held a 38-21 lead after one quarter, thanks in large part to a 70-percent shooting mark in the opening 12 minutes. In fact, the C’s connected on their first 10 shots from the field, as a Brown rimmed-out 3-point attempt eight minutes into the game marked their first miss. Brown did, however, pace the Celtics in first-quarter points with 10, while Irving wasn’t far behind with nine. The Pacers posted a lackluster 39-percent shooting mark and logged no assists in the opening frame.
BACK TO EARTH
Boston only could register out-of-this-world numbers for so long, as it returned back to reality in the second quarter. Indiana improved on the offensive end, as it rallied to cut the deficit to nine, but the C’s managed to take a 62-47 lead into the break.
After only one turnover in the first quarter, the Celtics gave the ball away six times in the second, which allowed the Pacers to chip away at the lead. Still, Boston had four players score in double figures in the first half, including Marcus Smart, who knocked down his first four 3-point attempts in the first two quarters. Irving led all scorers at halftime with 14 points.
OLADIPO TO THE RESCUE
The Pacers flirted with a comeback in the second quarter, but the home team really put on the pressure in the third. Thanks in large part to 16 third-quarter points from Oladipo, Indiana cut Boston’s lead to 85-78 heading into the final frame. Boston once again was rather careless with the basketball, committing eight turnovers in the third, one more than its first-half total. Irving led the Celtics with eight third-quarter points, but none of his teammates scored more than five in the frame.
Indiana hung tough throughout the final quarter, and managed to even the score at 100-100 on an Oladipo and-1 layup with less than two minutes remaining. Oladipo followed up his game-tying play with a go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds left, marking the Pacers’ first lead of the game. The teams would go back and forth in the final minute, and Irving kept Boston’s hopes alive with a 3-pointer to bring it within one with 10 seconds to go. The Pacers had a chance to ice the game with free throws, but Rozier managed to steal an errant pass, drive to the hole and give the Celtics the lead. Indiana still had a chance with one last heave, but the desperation attempt rimmed out to preserve Boston’s win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Celtics return to TD Garden on Wednesday night for a matchup with the Miami Heat. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.