March 12, 2018 / 2:11 AM / 9 months ago

Pacers rally to beat Celtics after Irving exits with knee injury

Kyrie Irving’s injury provided the Indiana Pacers with an opening to overcome a sluggish start, and they didn’t pass it up.

Down by double digits in the first half, Victor Oladipo and the Pacers came to life in the second half when Irving exited the game to hold off the shorthanded Boston Celtics 99-97 on Sunday night at TD Garden in Boston.

Oladipo had a game-high 27 points and Myles Turner added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who won for the fifth time in six games in March. Indiana entered the day a half-game behind Cleveland for the Eastern Conference’s third seed.

Boston lost Irving at halftime due to left knee soreness. Irving had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting and four rebounds in 16 first-half minutes, but did not join the team on the court when the second half began and was ruled out shortly afterwards.

Al Horford (illness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) missed Sunday’s game for the Celtics.

Marcus Smart led the Celtics in Irving’s absence with 20 points, going 6-for-12 from 3-point range. Jayson Tatum added 19 points and Terry Rozier added 16 off the bench for Boston.

Boston had won two straight and six of seven coming in, but still remained three games back of Eastern Conference-leading Toronto.

Indiana’s Darren Collison had two points and 10 assists off the bench one game after returning from an 11-game absence while recovering from left knee surgery.

After Irving’s departure, Indiana played with gusto in building a 74-70 lead after three quarters and leading by as many as nine early in the fourth.

Rozier’s straightaway 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining brought the Celtics within 95-93 and, after a missed jumper by Oladipo, Tatum made two free throws with 36.5 seconds left to tie it.

Turner outfought Marcus Morris in the post for a layup with 21 seconds left. Rozier missed a driving layup with 15 ticks to play, and Oladipo made two free throws with 10.4 left. Smart missed a pullup 3 with 5.5 left on the clock.

Tatum’s layup made it 99-97 with 1.9 left before Oladipo committed an offensive foul with an elbow to Marcus Morris. The call was video reviewed, and the ruling was upheld.

Rozier missed a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to seal the result.

—Field Level Media

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