Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 6:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 106, Celtics 79
Scott Agness | December 22, 2013
Early last week, the Pacers suffered consecutive losses for the first time all season. They have since rebounded and strung together their most complete pair of games this year.
They’ve got back to being dominating on the defensive end, which in turn has boosted the offense. On Sunday night, the Pacers (22-5) slammed their foot on the gas in the second quarter and didn’t ease up in their 106-79 pounding of the Boston Celtics (12-17) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The game opened with cheers in celebration of the return of former Butler coach Brad Stevens, who is in his first year of leading the Celtics. After that, the Pacers gave fans plenty to cheer about during this holiday season, whether it be Paul George’s performance in the third quarter, Danny Granger showing his range or Lance Stephenson’s triple-double.
The Pacers had a huge size differential inside and they exploited it early and often. Roy Hibbert scored half of the Pacers’ 20 points in the first quarter, including eight straight at one point. As the visiting Celtics missed their final six shots in the quarter, the Pacers outscored the visitors 10-2 for a three-point edge after 12 minutes. Indiana scored 14 of their 20 points in the quarter inside the paint, while holding Boston scoreless inside the paint.
Just over three minutes into the second period, the game was tied up at 23. From there, the Pacers had their way with the Celtics and went on a 24-5 run, which put them ahead by 19. By this point, the Pacers' stifling defense proved to be too much for the Celtics. On the other end, things were coming easily as they efficiently swung the ball around the perimeter and worked it inside for the best available shot. Shooting a 51-percent clip in the first half, the Pacers went into the locker room leading 52-37.
Paul George, the league’s top-scoring player in the third quarter, was smoking hot out of the break. He felt confident that every shot would go down, and they did. He hit all six of his shots and 4-of-5 free throws for 18 of his 24 points. His stellar shooting and a 22-point lead allowed four of the starters, all but Stephenson, to sit the entire fourth quarter.
Stephenson took advantage of his teammates knocking down shots on way to his third triple-double of the season. No other player in the entire NBA has more than one. In the other two, he needed an assist to complete the achievement but tonight, he needed a point. After a spectacular chase-from-beyond block from Danny Granger, C.J. Watson fired a pass up the floor to Stephenson, who connected on a 3-pointer in the corner to cap off his line at 12-10-10.
The Pacers on the bench had fun with it, doing the wave and then greeting him after a timeout was called.
In his second game back from injury, Granger showed signs of his old self as he impressively sank his first four 3-pointers.
This one was out of hand in the second half as the Pacers cruised to another large win. Before having four days between games, they’ll wrap up their eighth set of back-to-back games in Brooklyn on Monday – and then have four days between games.
Inside the Numbers
With 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the win, Lance Stephenson recorded his third triple-double of the season and the second in as many games against the Celtics. Detlef Schrempf is the only Indiana player with at least three in a season (four, in 1992-93).
Scoring 15 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, Roy Hibbert registered his ninth double of the year. Danny Granger, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, connected on 4-of-5 outside shots, his most 3-pointers in a game since April 19, 2012.
Avery Bradley was the Celtics’ top scorer, with 13 points. Jeff Green had 11, and so did Pike High School product Courtney Lee off the bench.
After allowing nine consecutive opponents to shoot better than 40 percent against them, the Pacers have held their last two opponents to 38 percent — and an average of 80 points. They are undefeated (12-0) when holding teams under 40 percent.
The Pacers improved to 7-0 when two or more players grab 10-plus rebounds and 7-1 when they score at least 100 points.
“He’s such a gifted passer and playmaker for us. He’s obviously a huge part of our team’s success and gives us a great edge.” – Frank Vogel on Lance Stephenson
“I’ve known Danny Granger a long time. He’s been waiting for 10 years to be on a team like this. He’s going to play the right way.” – Frank Vogel
“It was easy because I know my teammates can knock down shots. When we play together like coach says, and play as a unit, the sky’s the limit for everybody.” – Lance Stephenson
“This is a team that tries to embrace ourselves on being fun and interactive. That’s just something that we decided to do. That’s the personality that we’re trying to bring, not just in this locker room but to the fans. We think they deserve to see who we are and we just try to play tough and keep the crowd into the game and show them we’re here to play.” – George Hill on the bench doing the wave after Stephenson clinched the triple-double
“We kind of had gotten away from ourselves. Our defense in certain spots had slipped and we weren’t able to keep teams in checked. We’re just refocused and more tied together, but we understand that we can be beat.” – David West on the past two games
“I think they’re already, if not the leader in the hunt (for a title), they’re in the hunt. They are way better and Granger’s addition helps greatly.” – Celtics coach Brad Stevens on the Pacers
Stat of the Game
The Pacers ruled the lane, outscoring the Celtics 50-22 in that area. That’s their largest differential of the season.
- The Pacers have won both games this year after losing the last four meetings.
- Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has yet to play this season as he rehabs a torn ACL.
- The Pacers recorded their eighth sellout (18,165) of the season.
- Butler coach Brandon Miller, Butler athletic director Barry Collier, and Ball State football coach Pete Lembo were among those in attendance.
Monday, Dec. 23 at Brooklyn – 7:30 p.m. EST