INDIANAPOLIS – Without leading scoring Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers (11-9) ran out of firepower against the NBA’s best in the Boston Celtics (18-3).
Boston was also missing a big chunk of offense, with number two scorer Jaylen Brown sidelined, but the Celtics overcame for a 108-98 win over Indy at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Blue and Gold led by as many as 13 in the first half, but Boston outscored Indiana by 21 points in the third quarter to emerge victorious. Saturday’s loss is already Indy’s fourth of the season in which they failed to protect a double-figure advantage.
Saturday’s first half was owned by Indiana, who never trailed.
Lance Stephenson, who played a fantastic fourth quarter in Friday’s win over Toronto, picked up where he left off in the first quarter of Saturday’s contest. Stephenson scored 12 points in the first, helping the Pacers shoot 71% and take a 32-27 lead after one.
Indy opened the second quarter on fire, outscoring Boston 10-2 to grab a game-best 13-point advantage. The Celtics wouldn’t allow Indy to blow it open, though, sticking around to make it a 54-45 Pacers lead going into halftime.
Despite a first half dominated by the Blue and Gold, the Celtics turned everything around in the third quarter.
Boston blew by the Pacers in period number three, outscoring the home team 37-16. Surprisingly enough, Kyrie Irving did not factor much into the Celts’ game-defining quarter. Boston’s offense ran through Al Horford, who scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half.
Indiana trailed by 12 at 82-70 entering the fourth and never really got back into the ballgame. The Pacers got within eight with 6:45 to go, but that was as close as they got.
Irving led all scorers with 25 points on Saturday, with Horford next in line with 21 for Boston.
The Pacers got six players in double-figures and they were 6-1 in previous games in which they received that kind of production, but it was not enough. Myles Turner led Indy with 19 points, while Domantas Sabonis chipped in 17 off of the bench. Stephenson, in his first start with the Pacers since 2014, scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Their five-game winning streak is now over, but Indy will look to get back on track in the final game of their homestand on Monday. The Pacers will battle the Orlando Magic at the Fieldhouse, with game time scheduled for 7:00 p.m.