BOSTON (AP) Despite blowing a 26-point lead, the Indiana Pacers regained their composure in time to beat the Boston Celtics.
Victor Oladipo scored 35 and helped steady the Pacers as they recovered from a late stumble and held off the Celtics 97-91 on Friday night.
”We did a great job of just calming down, especially when they took the lead. We just did a great job of making stops down the stretch,” Oladipo said.
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The Pacers, who got an unexpected night off Wednesday when their game at New Orleans was postponed because of a leaky arena roof, were way fresher at the start and just enough so down the stretch to beat the Celtics, who were coming off an overtime win at Washington the night before.
Myles Turner scored 19 and the Pacers got 13 points each from Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young while ending a five-game losing streak against the Celtics, who could not sustain a furious comeback in the second half.
”We had no reason to be in that game,” said Kyrie Irving, who led Boston with 21 points. ”We fought back. We battled back but they came out and just really hit us in the mouth in the first half.”
Jaylen Brown added 16 points and Al Horford scored all 10 of his points in the second half and pulled down eight rebounds for the Celtics.
Boston had won five of six, but struggled from outside most of the night and finished 7 for 27 from 3-point range. Indiana also outscored Boston in the paint 42-38 and outrebounded the Celtics 53-38. Young led the Pacers with 14 rebounds and Oladipo pulled down 10.
”Victor was good but it was a team effort. A lot of guys did some good things tonight,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. ”This is part of the growth with our group.”
Boston stumbled through the first half, falling behind by nearly four touchdowns and getting booed loudly by the home fans. The Celtics rallied in the third quarter, outscoring Indiana 34-17, but could not hold off the Pacers in the final few minutes.
”We just did a great job of making stops down the stretch. They’re a great team,” said Oladipo, who also had five steals. ”That was a good win for us.”
After Boston pulled within 76-72 entering the fourth, Indiana clung to the lead until Horford’s 3-pointer with 4:45 left put Boston up 83-82, the first time in the game the Celtics led. Oladipo answered with a jumper to restore Indiana’s lead, and then Irving put Boston back up with a pair of free throws.
The back-and-forth ended there as Turner dunked in an offensive rebound to make it 86-85, Bogdanovic hit a free throw after a three-second violation and Oladipo drove for a pair of layups that put Indiana back up 91-85 with 1:37 left to play.
The Pacers last beat Boston on March 15, 2016, winning 103-98 at Indianapolis. Boston won the first two meetings this season and were swept in three games against the Celtics last season.
”It’s big for us. A great game, a great win,” Oladipo said. ”But it’s only one game. There’s a lot of season left. We can’t get overzealous or overconfident.”
The Celtics were sluggish from the start, making just 6 of 26 shots in the first quarter and missing all six 3-point attempts. It didn’t get much better in the second quarter and Boston couldn’t keep up the pace after a torrid third quarter.
Coach Brad Stevens said the loss had much more to do with his team’s start than the finish.
”I thought we started the game really going through the motions and I thought they started the game really playing with great force and purpose,” Stevens said.
Pacers: Shot 61 percent (11 for 18) in the first quarter and led 30-16 entering the second period. … The Pacers improved to 14-18 against teams with a winning record. … Indiana last lost back-to-back games Jan. 18-19.
Celtics: … C Greg Monroe was playing his first home game for Boston and received a warm welcome when he entered the game late in the first quarter. The Celtics signed the free agent on Thursday had five points and six rebounds Thursday at Washington. … The Celtics were without guards Marcus Smart (right hand laceration) and Shane Larkin (sore right knee).
Pacers: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Celtics: Host the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon