Pacers hold on to beat Celtics, move up to third position in Eastern Conference
BOSTON (AP) — The Indiana Pacers gave an extra 1.5 seconds of effort against the Celtics on Sunday night, and this time they escaped with a win.
Victor Oladipo scored 27 points, then committed a dead-ball offensive foul that gave Boston a shot to win the game at the buzzer. But the Pacers forced Terry Rozier into an off-balance shot and held on to beat the depleted Celtics 99-97.
“We talk about being calm, and being poised,” said Indiana coach Nate McMillan, who had already seen his team blow last-minute lead to Boston when the teams met in December. “Everybody was flying to move quickly, and it almost cost us. We got the stop at the end, but we have to continue to grow.”
Myles Turner scored 19 points, including the game-winning basket with 21 seconds to play, and added 10 rebounds for Indiana, who survived the crazy ending to win for the fifth time in six games. When the teams met in Indianapolis on Dec. 18, the Pacers blew a four-point lead in the final 19 seconds, capped by Rozier’s steal and dunk — also with 1.5 seconds left.
“I like being on this end of it,” McMillan said.
Boston led by 10 at halftime before point guard Kyrie Irving left the game with a sore left knee, joining absent big man Al Horford, who was home sick, and Jaylen Brown, who is in the concussion protocol. Indiana went ahead by as many as nine, and had a 93-76 lead with 2:13 to play before Boston rallied to tie 95-all with 37 seconds left.
Turner gave the Pacers the lead again at the low post and, after Rozier’s miss, Indiana hit a pair of foul shots to take a four-point lead. With fans heading for the exits, Tatum hit a seemingly meaningless layup to cut the deficit to two points with only 1.5 seconds left.
Before the ball could be inbounded, Oladipo was whistled when his elbow caught Marcus Morris in the face. A review confirmed the call.
“I was about to turn to run and I just saw my man on the floor and heard the whistle blow. He said offensive foul,” Oladipo said. “It was almost like he was running and when he turned he made sure his face hit my elbow.”
Boston inbounded the ball to Rozier, who took a long 2-pointer that bounced off the near side of the rim.
“Not a great look,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, “but a shot I’ve seen him make before.”
Smart scored 20 with eight assists and Tatum scored 19 for the Celtics, who had won six of their last seven.
As the buzzer sounded, Cory Joseph got tangled up with Morris and Marcus Smart, bringing all three to the floor; players milled around and officials kept them separated but tensions were quickly soothed.
Irving said his knee started feeling sore during the March 3 game against Houston.
“My knee’s been feeling pretty achy the last week,” he said after scoring seven points in 16 first-half minutes. “I think right now that would probably be the best thing instead of kind of hoping it gets better over two three days, which it usually does.”
The Pacers outscored Boston 34-20 in the third quarter.
“Obviously, it was a tough situation for our team,” Stevens said. “I thought they took the steam out of us a little bit in the third quarter, but our guys battled and gave us a chance.”
With Horford and Brown already sidelined along with Gordon Hayward, who hasn’t played since breaking his leg in the first quarter of the season opener, the Celtics were without four members of their opening night starting five.
Indiana quickly erased a 10-point halftime deficit, scoring 11 straight points: back-to-back 3-pointers from Bojan Bogdanovich and Joseph, and then five points in a row from Oladipo, to take a 60-57 lead. Greg Monroe and Rozier scored to put Boston back in the lead before Indiana scored another seven in a row to make it 67-61.
Pacers: Made just 13 of 34 2-pointers in the first half. … Wore their Hickory High uniforms from the movie Hoosiers.
Celtics: Rozier scored 16 off the bench. … Tatum is the first Celtics rookie with 30 games of 15 or more points since Paul Pierce did it 31 times in 1998-99.
Pacers: Visit Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Celtics: Host Washington on Wednesday night.