Pacers final score: Pacers fall behind in second half, lose to Celtics 120-95

Mar 25, 2023 - 1:43 AM
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Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

A competitive first half turned into a blowout for the Boston Celtics after the break, topping the Indiana Pacers in impressive fashion. The Pacers kept things competitive for the first half, but an 11-0 Celtics run early in the third quarter, featuring an inbounds steal three, effectively put the game out of reach the rest of the way.

Despite that first half being competitive, the Pacers didn’t actually lead much in this one. A 9-8 lead three minutes into the first quarter was their last advantage, though they were able to lock things up in a tie on numerous occasions, including on a pair of dunks late in the first quarter, one courtesy of Jordan Nwora.

They still weren’t able to get over the hump no matter how many dunks they had, including their last tie at 44-44 thanks to Buddy Hield.

Jaylen Brown knocked down a three as a response, kicking off a 14-4 run that put Boston ahead by double figures for the first time, a lead the Pacers were able to cut in half by halftime. Tyrese Haliburton returned to action, ending the first half with a floater and starting the second half with a floater to make it a three point game.

That’s when Boston opened things up, scoring 11 straight to push the game into double figures. The Pacers did manage to keep the game from getting too far out of hand at that point, but missed free throws kept them from ever pushing the game back into single digits as things became more shaky at the end of the third, Boston extending their lead to 16.

If the game wasn’t over at that point, it certainly was at the open of the fourth when Boston outscored Indiana 14-2 to push their lead out to 28. Indiana’s starters never returned and by the end, the Pacers could only muster up 95 points, totaling just 40 second half points after scoring 55 in the first half.

The second half offset a really good first half showing for Indiana, shooting just 13-38 from the floor after the break as Boston locked in their interior defense. It was a bit easy for Boston to focus their defense on what Indiana was doing around the paint because the Pacers shot a season worst 4-25 from three point range.

That poor three point shooting was present all night, though Indiana was able to overcome that in the first half by shooting 70.6% inside the arc. That fell to 45.8% in the second half. It didn’t help matters that Indiana also struggled at the free throw line, missing five of their first seven attempts and nine overall, shooting just 13-22 on the night, keeping them from ever climbing back into the game after Boston went on their third quarter run.

It wasn’t a total loss for Indiana though, with Haliburton getting back on the court and Myles Turner playing well on his birthday, each player combining for 20. Turner was 9-13 form the floor with six attempts and a block. Turner was excellent with his size, taking advantage of the mismatches throughout the night on his shots in the paint.

Haliburton meanwhile, exhibited a fair share of rust, shooting just 1-5 from three point range and committing five turnovers, but was sharp in his play around the basket, coming through with some tough finishes while finishing with nine assists.

Off the bench, Isaiah Jackson led the way with 12 points, pulling in six rebounds while T.J. McConnell had his scoring on point, dropping 10. Each player shot 5-10. There was a shift in the lineup tonight by moving Bennedict Mathurin into the starting lineup and moving Hield to the second unit, a move that didn’t work great for their individual production.

Hield scored eight, knocking down one of Indiana’s four threes (Turner, Haliburton, and Oshae Brissett were the other three) and Mathurin scored just two, going 1-4 from the floor. Mathurin seemed to be focused on his play on the defensive end, which limited his opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, giving him a good glimpse at what being the best two-way player in the league entails.

Indiana remains in 11th place in the East following the loss, but move back into a tie with Washington, who picked up a win tonight against San Antonio. The Pacers will have an especially quick turnaround for a back-to-back, traveling south to Atlanta for a Saturday evening game against the Atlanta Hawks, tipping off at 5 p.m. Eastern.

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