Behind Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, the Celtics finally found its offensive rhythm in the second half but came up short in the final seconds against the Pacers as Indiana held on to a 100-98 win.
Bradley, who was questionable before the game, scored five straight points in the final 1:30 to tie the game at 98.
The game remained tied when Bradley fouled Monta Ellis with 13 seconds left. Ellis made both free throws, giving the Pacers a two-point lead, 100-98. In the final seconds, Thomas drove to the hoop -- then kicked it out to Bradley for a game-winning three that came up short.
"They forced us out of the play we were trying to run and Isaiah (Thomas) still made a great play," Bradley said. "He drove and they double-teamed him and I tried to shoot a last-minute 3 up and George Hill played great defense." (ESPN Boston)Thomas finished with a game high 27 points to go with his seven assists. Bradley added 21 points, five rebounds and Jae Crowder added 12 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Paul George shot the ball well against the C's, he scored 26 points on 8-of-18 shots and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Pacers. Jordan Hill also had a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Monta Ellis contributed 13 points, 8 assists.
The Pacers opened up a 10-point advantage in the first half. Although the rebounding margin between the two teams were close (Pacers: 53, Celtics:49), the Pacers grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds (21) -- which led to a lot of second chance points.
Isaiah Thomas' three-pointer with 8:57 left to go gave the Celtics their first lead of the second half. The C's had been crawling from behind through most of the night, but shortly after Thomas' go-ahead three, Evan Turner sunk a three of his own, topping off an 8-0 Celtics run.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens trotted out a new-look starting lineup (Thomas, Bradley, Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger) against the Pacers. Team officials announced that Marcus Smart was going to sit out (sprained toe). And Stevens decided to play Tyler Zeller and David Lee off the bench.
The Celtics will look for a win on Friday at TD Garden when they come home to face John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards.
The Celtics shot 42.2 percent from the field against the Pacers. Indiana only shot 38.5 percent but their second-chance points gave them the comfortable lead they needed. Although the C's caught up in the fourth quarter, playing from behind could have been avoided in this one.