Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Pacers 122, Celtics 112: C's eliminated from In-Season Tournament, Tatum and Brown combine for 62 points

The Celtics fell to the Indiana Pacers 122-112, as they were eliminated from the quarterfinals of the NBA's In-Season Tournament Monday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Jayson Tatum, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month just hours prior to the tip-off, finished with 32 points on 13-of-26 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds and six assists. Jaylen Brown had 30 points on 14-of-23 from the floor and nine rebounds, but it wasn't enough for the C's to advance to the semifinals in Las Vegas -- losing in the knockout stage of the league's inaugural tournament.

Derrick White recorded 18 points, eight assists, while Sam Hauser was 5-of-7 from 3-point range to add 15 points, six rebounds off the bench for Boston -- who are now 15-5 on the season after winning three straight coming into the matchup.

The Celtics, playing without Kristaps Porzingis (left calf strain) for the fourth consecutive game, punched their ticket into knockout stage of the league's inaugural tournament after winning East Group C by beating the Chicago Bulls in a lopsided victory last week -- to clinch the No. 3 seed in the conference.

Tyrese Haliburton notched his first-career triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the No. 2 seeded Pacers, as they await the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks/New York Knicks.
"He played well. The whole team played well," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said, referring to Haliburton and the Pacers. "[Brown] did the best he could [defensively]."
Buddy Hield netted 21 points on 4-of-6 from deep, Myles Turner had 17 points, 10 rebounds and former Celtic Aaron Nesmith chipped in 14 points off the bench for Indiana (11-8), who remain undefeated in the tournament.
Boston had a 55-48 advantage at the break before getting outscored 37-23 in the third quarter, with the Pacers using a 17-3 run to end the period and take a 85-78 lead going into the final frame.

The Celtics got back in front (99-98) very briefly, when Tatum split a pair of free throws with 4:19 left and then again (103-102) at the 2:33 mark after Tatum sank two from the charity stripe, but the would be the last time they'd be ahead the rest of the game.

With the game knotted (105-105) in the final 1:57 on the clock, the Pacers scored nine unanswered points -- starting with a four-point play by Haliburton -- to stay in front for good.

In the end, Indiana went on a 17-7 spurt to closeout the C's, as part of a 74-57 second half scoring output to advance and play another game on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Celtics will head back home to TD Garden, where they're unbeaten (9-0), and face the loser of the Bucks/Knicks in a regular season game Friday night.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 47.4% from the field, but only 12-of-41 (29.3%) from behind the arc, while the Pacers were 45.7% from the floor and 19-of-40 from 3. The Celtics won the battle off the glass 56-41 and points in the paint 56-44. The C's had 27 assists (18 turnovers) on 46 baskets to the Pacers 28 dimes (eight turnovers) on 43 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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