Game Rewind: Pacers 112, Celtics 118

Game Recap

After losing a close battle to Golden State, the Pacers had hopes of rebounding against the slumping Boston Celtics on Friday night. However, despite limiting the high-scoring duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to 24 combined points, Kemba Walker erupted for 32 to lead Boston (16-17) to a 118-112 victory.

Trailing 112-103, a 6-0 Pacers run trimmed Boston's lead to 112-109 with 1:23 to go. With just under a minute remaining, Indiana (15-16) had a chance to tie. However, Justin Holiday's 3-pointer kicked out. Daniel Theis' 3-pointer on the opposite end with 36.4 seconds to go then deflated Indiana's sails on its comeback attempt.

Five Pacers ended up in double figures on the night. After being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team earlier on Friday as a replacement for an injured Kevin Durant, Domantas Sabonis led the way with 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Justin Holiday added 19, including five triples. Myles Turner notched his sixth double-double of the season, tallying 17 points and 10 boards, while Aaron Holiday added 15 off the bench. But the Pacers failed to get over the hump once again.

"We just have to keep grinding it," coach Nate Bjorkgren said postgame. "Keep playing hard. I think we had a shot — a corner three to tie it. It didn't go down."

The night started fantastic, as the Blue & Gold drilled their first five attempts from deep. Turner notched nine of the first 12 Pacers points, and Indiana sprinted out to an 18-4 lead before five minutes ticked by.

But Walker began pulling the Celtics out of the hole. The former UConn standout tallied 10 points of a 15-2 Celtics run over a 3:41 span to close the gap to one, 20-19. A pair of free throws from Brown at the 3:05 mark finally knotted the score at 25.

In the final three minutes, Indiana stretched its lead to three at 31-28 on a pair of free throws from Turner with 1:12 remaining. However, consecutive buckets from Tatum and former Pacer Jeff Teague pushed the Celtics ahead by one, after one.

The teams remained in close combat during the early stages of the second. Down 39-36, Doug McDermott nailed a baseline 3-pointer from the left side to tie the score with 9:17 to go. However, the Celtics used the glass to earn themselves multiple offensive chances and keep the lead. At the 8:19 mark, the hosts hauled in consecutive offensive boards, leading to a slam from Robert Williams III that pushed Boston ahead by four, 45-41.

Boston continued to hold a slim lead over the next several minutes. Walker used his stop-and-go ability to find space in the mid-range. With 5:08 to play, he sank a 16-foot pull-up jumper, then followed with a pair of free throws to push the Celtics' lead to 55-49.

But Indiana continued to fight. After Walker's layup with 3:03 to go pushed the Celtics ahead, 57-52, Indiana strung together an 8-2 spree to regain a 60-59 lead. However, Brown's layup with 27.1 seconds left pushed Boston back in front by one at the break.

A Justin Holiday triple tied the score at 63 at the 10:32 mark in the third. However, the Celtics controlled the game early in the third. The hosts responded with a 14-4 run over the next 3:45 to jump ahead by 10. Five straight points by Theis concluded the run and forced Bjorkgren to call a timeout with 7:07 left in the third.

The timeout appeared to ignite the Pacers, as Justin Holiday and Malcolm Brogdon combined for five unanswered to quickly trim the Celtics' lead to 77-72 with 5:58 to play in the period. After the teams traded a pair of points, Holiday nailed a baseline triple from the left side to complete a 10-2 run and cut the deficit to two with 3:48 to go.

Yet, Boston held on for the rest of the frame. Walker sank a 3-pointer on the right wing out of a Boston timeout. Later, Williams finished an and-one alley-oop off a lob from Teague to extend the back to 87-80. With 37.7 seconds left, Sabonis' hook shot trimmed the Celtics' lead to 89-84. But Tatum responded with a 26-foot pull-up triple, and Boston took a 92-84 lead into the final frame.

Despite getting open looks, Indiana could not capitalize early in the fourth. Breakdowns in the paint on the defensive end allowed Boston to jump ahead by double-digits, 98-88, with 9:21 left. However, the Pacers kept on fighting.

Back-to-back and-one finishes from Jeremy Lamb and Edmond Sumner, followed by a corner three from Aaron Holiday, gave the Pacers nine unanswered in 53 seconds to pull within one, 98-97. Boston responded swiftly, notching six straight to extend its lead back to seven with 6:45 to play. Later, Turner's layup at the 6:00 mark trimmed the Celtics' lead back to one possession, 104-101.

Yet, despite the push, Indiana failed to take over the lead. Instead, Boston tallied six unanswered, including Walker's 30th point, to pull ahead 110-101 with 3:47 to play.

Consecutive Pacers trips to the charity stripe cut Boston's lead to five, 112-107 with 2:07 remaining. Sabonis then worked the low block against Tristan Thompson for a tough finish to pull within three. After Tatum stepped out of bounds, Indiana had a chance to tie. Justin Holiday fired his open look from the left corner, appearing true. But the rim was unfriendly, and the ball kicked back out and fell to Williams. Walker received the ball and fired to Theis in the opposite corner. Theis connected, and shattered Indiana's momentum.

After a triple from Sabonis gave the Pacers one last glimmer of hope, Walker finished his superb night by sealing the deal at the free-throw line. Feeling the pressure of hovering around the .500 mark, Indiana appears fired up to face the New York Knicks on Saturday night.

"We don't have time," Turner said. "We have to nip it in the bud now."

Inside the Numbers

Walker scored 30 or more points against the Pacers for the sixth time in his career.

Indiana lost the battle on the boards, 52-48.

The Pacers connected on 27-of-29 free-throw attempts, setting a new season-high in free-throw percentage (93.1 percent).

Stat of the Night

"Kemba Walker is one of their best players. We knew that coming in. We knew he was going to make a couple of those threes off the screen. We had to meet high. Obviously, we didn't want him to go off that much." –Sabonis on Walker's effective night

"It's an honor. It's an honor being selected as one of the best players in the NBA — to go out and play this game. It's something you dream about as a kid, and I'm lucky enough to do it two years in a row representing the Pacers. Just like last year, I'm going to go out there, have fun, and enjoy it — soak it all in." -Sabonis on being named an All-Star for the second time in his career

"Just win games. Just be more consistent out there, winning games. I feel like we're doing a great job of adjusting to the new coaching staff, all the schemes that we have on defense and offense. So all we need to do is win games. That's pretty much it." -Aaron Holiday on what needs to change as they head into the second part of the season.

You Can Quote Me On That

The Pacers were outscored in the paint (48-32) for the second consecutive contest.


  • Boston has won 11 of the last 16 games in the series, dating back to the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
  • Indiana has lost three straight on the road against the Celtics. They have not won at TD Garden since Feb. 9, 2018.
  • Malcolm Brogdon (12 points) has scored at least 10 points in every game this season.

Up Next

The Pacers head to New York to take on Julius Randle and the Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 8:00 PM ET.


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