Sunday, January 7, 2024

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown combine for 69 points in Celtics' 118-101 win over Pacers

The Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers in a wire-to-wire 118-101 win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Saturday night.

Jayson Tatum finished with a game-high 38 points on 14-of-23 from the field, including 8-of-13 from 3-point range, to go along with 13 rebounds and six assists. Jaylen Brown hit 13-of-20 from the floor to net 31 points to lead Boston, who improved to 28-7 on the season.

Al Horford, who returned from a one-game absence on a second night of a back-to-back, recorded 10 points (4-of-8 shooting), seven rebounds, eight assists and two blocks in 30 minutes off the bench. The veteran big man played an extended role, following Kristaps Porzingis getting poked in the right eye during the first quarter -- returning briefly before heading to the locker room for good.

Bennedict Mathurin led Indiana with 20 points, while Tyrese Haliburton added 17 points (5-of-17 from the floor), seven assists and Buddy Hield chipped in 15 points. The Pacers, playing without Bruce Brown (knee), fell to 20-15 after getting their six-game win streak snapped.

Boston held the home team to 17 points in the opening 12 minutes -- their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season, before Indy nearly doubled their scoring output to finish the second. Still, Tatum and Brown scored a combined 37 points on 16-of-27 from the field, as the C's had a 58-49 advantage at the break without attempting a single free throw.

Derrick White, Tatum and Sam Hauser each picked up their fourth foul in the third period, as the Pacers used a 13-7 spurt to start the second half and keep it close the rest of the quarter. Boston would take a 84-81 lead into the final frame.

Tatum checked back in to start the fourth, scoring 12 points as part of the C's 24-9 run to go ahead 108-92, capped off with a 3-ball by former Pacer Oshae Brissett (eight points, eight rebounds) with 4:22 left to put away Indiana -- avenging a loss that eliminated them from the In-Season Tournament last month the last time these two teams played.
"[Indiana] is really good," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. "When we play connected basketball, with physical half-court defense and intentional, poised offense, we play better, and that's kind of what we did."
The Celtics will remain in Indianapolis, as they face off against the Pacers one more time Monday night with a 7:00 pm ET tip-off.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 51.1% from the field, including 16-of-41 from long distance, while the Pacers were 41.3% from the floor and 8-of-42 (19%) from 3. The C's won the rebound battle 56-38, but each team scored 54 points respectively in the paint. The Celtics dished out 26 assists (18 turnovers) on 46 baskets to Indiana's 23 dimes (nine turnovers) on 38 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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