Pacers need overtime to fend off Celtics’ late rally, secure win
David West was tired of watching the Pacers let leads slip away on the road.
So on Friday night, the power forward who has struggled offensively since returning from an injury, got back to his old ways at home.
He scored seven points in the final six minutes against short-handed Boston, helping the Pacers fend off a frenetic fourth-quarter rally for a 107-103 victory, Indiana’s fourth win in six games. West was just 3 of 11 from the field, but his biggest contribution didn’t show up on the box score.
"They made some plays. But we made enough plays down the stretch," he said.
Indiana (15-23) has needed that sort of veteran leadership ever since All-Star forward Paul George went down with a broken right leg in August.
But West missed Indiana’s first 16 games with a sprained right ankle, and he’s dealing with a previous injury to his hand that sometimes acts up when it gets hit. That happened Friday, which may explain West’s shooting.
Fortunately for the Pacers, his teammates pitched in. Roy Hibbert finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. C.J. Miles added 17 points and C.J. Watson joined West in making big shots late.
And the Celtics (12-22) weren’t at full strength.
Boston was led by Avery Bradley with 23 points and Brandon Bass with 17 on a night they were missing two players — forward-center Brandan Wright, who was traded to Phoenix just before tip-off, and leading scorer Jeff Green, who is rumored to be headed to Memphis. Green was yanked out of the starting lineup and did not suit up for the Celtics.
"It’s a unique day, a tough day, and we came out and battled even though we couldn’t make a shot in the first three quarters," said Boston coach Brad Stevens, who led nearby Butler to two straight Final Fours.
The Celtics did fight hard, erasing a 13-point deficit in the final 8:34 of regulation. They forced overtime with Bradley’s 3 with 4.3 seconds left.
West could have won it with at the buzzer. But instead, he did the dirty work in overtime. His three-point play gave Indiana a 100-96 lead.
Bradley scored Boston’s next five points, and Evan Turner’s 16-foot jumper gave the Celtics a 103-102 lead with 1:45 to go.
That’s when West came up big again. He made two free throws to give Indiana the lead for good. Miles made two more and Boston’s closing 3 was off the mark.
"David was great down the stretch," coach Frank Vogel said. "He was just big enough to help us close out the game."
Celtics: Boston was hoping it had started a new journey after snapping a four-game losing streak on the road Wednesday night at Brooklyn. Instead, the Celtics struggled offensively for most of the night and couldn’t quite close out the Pacers, who have beaten the Celtics three straight times in Indy.
Pacers: The injuries just won’t go away for Indiana. In addition to Paul George (broken right leg), the Pacers played without starting point guard George Hill (strained left groin) and backup center Ian Mahinmi (torn left plantar fascia). Three of their teammates — Hibbert (sprained left ankle), guard Rodney Stuckey (sore right groin) and Watson (sore left foot) — all played hurt.
Celtics: Boston completes its three-game road trip at Toronto on Saturday.
Pacers: Indiana heads to Philadelphia on Saturday.
West wasn’t the only player who had a tough shooting night. Indiana shot 37 percent from the field, while Boston was 41 of 103 (39.8 percent). The Celtics were even worse on 3-pointers, going 10 of 34 (29.4 percent). But the Celtics became the first team to make 10 3s in a game against the Pacers this season.