A valiant comeback effort ended in disappointment at TD Garden on Friday night.
Down by as many as 26 at one point, the Boston Celtics erased the large deficit but ultimately fell to the Indiana Pacers 97-91 in an eventful game.
Boston visibly was sluggish in its second game of a back-to-back as it put itself in an early hole. But as they’ve regularly done this season, however, the Celtics still put themselves in a position to win.
Kyrie Irving paced the Celtics with 21 points and was one of five C’s to score in double figures. Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with a game-high 35 points.
The Celtics fall to 40-17 with the loss, while the Pacers climb to 31-25.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
The Pacers are among the best in the NBA at shooting from the field this season, and they clearly proved that in the first quarter. Indiana shot 61.1-percent (4-for-6 from 3-point territory) and led 30-16 after one.
Oladipo and Myles Turner quickly heated up, scoring a combined 19 points. Meanwhile, the Celtics struggled to shoot with consistency, posting a horrid 23.1 field goal percentage on 6-for-26 shooting.
Though the Celtics had kept in striking distance most of the quarter, Indiana put together a 12-2 run over 2:51 and led by 16 with under two minutes to play in the first.
Things did not get any better for the Celtics into the second, as they were outscored 29-22 in the quarter and headed into the break down 59-38.
Indiana led by as many as 26 in the second, and it was appalling how careless the Celtics were with the ball, turning it over five times, which resulted in eight additional points for the Pacers.
The Celtics finished the half having never led, shooting 29.2 percent (14-for-48) from the field and 9.1 percent (1-for-11) from beyond the arc. Tatum led Celtics scorers with 11 points after 24 minutes, while Oladipo dropped 17 points for the Pacers.
CHANGE OF PACE
The Celtics came out of the half flying, putting together a 12-2 run over 2:09 to pull within 14 with under nine minutes to play in the third.
From there, the Celtics kept chipping away on offense, and once they reciprocated with quality defense on the other end, it allowed them to cut deep into the deficit.
Brown went on an absolute tear midway through the quarter, dropping 12 points as the Celtics pulled within as few as eight by the final minute.
The exciting third quarter — in which the Celtics outscored the Pacers 34-17 — was capitalized with a stunning buzzer beater from Terry Rozier, who knocked down a trey from 35 feet to put the Celtics down just 76-72 entering the final quarter.
BIG EFFORT ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT
The deficit officially was wiped away at 5:24 in the fourth with a Horford put-back to tie things at 80. After Oladipo hit a jumper to retake the lead, the Horford knocked down a 3-pointer on Boston’s next possession to give the Celtics their first lead of the game with 4:45 to play.
With Boston down by a pair at the time, both teams went scoreless for 3:25 in the middle of the period. The Celtics clearly were trying to hit the go-ahead 3-pointer, while Indiana’s offense simply went cold.
But as time drew thin, both sides continued to trade chances. The Pacers opened up a six-point advantage with 1:37 on the clock, and though the Celtics would chip it down to four, they never put themselves in a good enough position to equalize or take the lead.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Terry William Rozier III from North Station.
The Celtics have a big matchup Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they also will honor Paul Pierce, retiring his number after the game. Tip from TD Garden is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images