Another close finish against a sub-par team gives the Indiana Pacers their fourth straight victory and maintains their two-game lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Paul George led the Blue and Gold with 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals as the Pacers downed the Boston Celtics 102-97. But it was newcomer Evan Turner who stole the show, scoring 17 points off the bench.
The Celtics kept it close the entire way, only falling behind by 10 points at most. They trailed by one at the end of the first quarter and then seven at halftime. A 30-point third quarter vaulted the Celtics to a two-point lead, but it was the Pacers defense in the fourth quarter that ultimately won the game.
Indiana trailed heading into the fourth quarter for only the 15th time this season — 6-9 record when that happens. Poor shooting (45.0 percent) and a non-existent defensive effort (59.1 percent shooting by Boston) in the third gave fans a bit of a scare, especially when the fourth quarter started the exact same way.
But that all quickly changed when the Pacers pushed it into fifth gear. They shot 60 percent in the fourth quarter and held the Celtics to 27.3 percent shooting.
C.J. Watson had the job of filling George Hill’s shoes as he sat out with a shoulder injury and you could say he did so, scoring seven points, dishing two assists and grabbing two rebounds. Late in the fourth though head coach Frank Vogel opted to sit Watson and go with an experimental lineup of Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert.
As I said in my article detailing a couple long-term impacts the Danny Granger-Evan Turner trade could have on the Pacers, this lineup was one of them. Turner is a skilled ball handler and continued to have his way with the Celtics defense when he took over point guard duties. It also gave the Pacers a lengthy lineup, which helped when it came time to pressure the Celtics on defense.
Indiana will now travel back home to take on the Utah Jazz tomorrow night.