Celtics sweep three-game roadtrip with win over Pacers, 109-102
The Boston Celtics collect their fourth straight win for the first time this season with a victory over the Indiana Pacers, 109-102.
The C's were guided by Isaiah Thomas (28 pts, 9 ast) who notched the majority of his points in the fourth quarter. Six Celtics finished with double figures in points, including four starters.
Meanwhile, the Pacers were led by Jeff Teague (31 pts, 8 ast, 5 reb) with a tough shooting performance from Paul George (19 pts, 5-for-16 FG). George tallied most of his points in the fourth, but couldn't complete the comeback for Indiana.
The Celtics jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead in the first, opening the frame 3-for-4 from the floor. After that, though, Boston struggled to find the bottom of the net, especially from deep. That didn't stop them from pulling the trigger beyond the arc, though.
The C's heaved up 15 three-point attempts in a close game through most of the first... that was until Indiana surged an 11-0 run to close out the quarter, which saw an obscene tech called on Avery Bradley.
Rare tech on Avery Bradley, who didn't like the foul call there.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 23, 2016
That run built the Pacers a 9-point cushion going into the second.
"Anything you can do, I can do better." - Probably the Celtics during the break.
Celtics almost reached four minutes of scoreless hoops after Isaiah Thomas hit the bench late in the first quarter. Smart FT breaks it up.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 23, 2016
The Celtics broke up their scoreless streak at the start of the second and didn't look back. Suddenly a 9-point deficit was erased, and the Celtics weren't done.
And the @celtics as a team on a 17-0 run. The whole squad is like ... pic.twitter.com/QXWyBPfNDk— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 23, 2016
Yep. 17-0. The run was sparked by a brand new lineup of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko, and Kelly Olynyk. Not your normal C's five, but the energy forced turnovers and scored relentlessly on the fastbreak. Boston also started to feel the range and regained some confidence from three.
That's one hell of a second quarter. Celtics go from 31-22 down to 51-40 up.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 23, 2016
The Celtics didn't let off the gas in the second half, especially on defense.
Paul George has just 2 points since the first quarter. Avery Bradley has done a nice job on him.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 23, 2016
Generally, Boston couldn't build on the lead they took into halftime, though, going relatively even with the Pacers throughout the quarter. Indiana clawed to within six, but were quickly pushed back to a double digit deficit for the last 8 minutes of the frame.
Boston maintains its double-digit lead & heads into the 4th up 77-67. IT is leading the way with 14 points & 9 dimes. Crowder has 13 points.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 23, 2016
The Pacers used the fourth quarter to fight their way back into the game. In spite of a typical Isaiah Thomas fourth quarter, the mistakes in the early minutes kept the C's from putting it away.
This was almost the Finest Marcus Smart Moment, until it became the Not Finest Terry Rozier Lob. pic.twitter.com/XP1wMlVisT— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) December 23, 2016
Terry and Jaylen had another opportunity the very next possession, and low and behold...
The world does not want Terry Rozier throwing alley oops to Jaylen Brown.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 23, 2016
Yep. Jaylen at least caught this one, but couldn't convert. Those blunders opened the window for the Pacers to begin their climb back, and that's exactly what they did.
A pair of free throws from Jeff Teague cuts the Celtics' lead to 5 with 6:21 to play.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 23, 2016
BOS 85, IND 80#GoPacers
But Isaiah was able to stave off the Pacers surge with another dominant fourth frame.
Isaiah Thomas is second in the league in 4th qtr ppg with 8.1. He's already got 14 tonight.— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) December 23, 2016
Celtics lock down the victory at the free throw line and pick up their fourth straight win.
Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports