Kyrie Irving made the go-ahead layup with 0.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as the host Boston Celtics moved into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 114-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
Indiana’s Thaddeus Young completed an alley-oop to forge a tie at 112 before missing a driving layup on the next possession. Young redeemed himself with a steal, but Boston made a defensive stop and Irving gained a step on Wesley Matthews and made a ball fake on Young before converting the layup.
Irving scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half and Al Horford added 19 for the Celtics (45-31), who pulled even in the standings with Indiana after winning back-to-back contests on the heels of a season high-tying four-game losing streak.
Jaylen Brown scored 16 points off the bench and Aron Baynes recorded his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds for Boston, which will visit the Pacers in the regular-season finale on April 5.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 of his 27 points in the first half for Indiana, which has lost six of its last seven games.
Irving, who sat out Tuesday’s 116-106 victory at Cleveland for rest purposes, made a short jumper and then set up Brown for a corner 3-pointer to give Boston a 105-99 advantage with 5 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Indiana answered in short order, with Bogdanovic capping the 6-0 run with a driving layup.
Bogdanovic drilled a 3-pointer in transition and Myles Turner sank an uncontested shot from beyond the arc to cap a 12-2 run and give Indiana an 85-82 lead with 3:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Irving scored 10 points in under a two-minute stretch to begin the second half and stake Boston to a 73-64 lead. Bogdanovic and Turner each sank 3-pointers to cut into the deficit before Irving made a nifty feed to a cutting Horford for a layup.
Indiana claimed a 41-40 lead on the strength of a 16-5 run to open the second quarter, with T.J. Leaf making a three-point play, a 3-pointer and a layup on consecutive possessions. Jayson Tatum drained back-to-back 3-pointers and three in total in the second quarter to help Boston seize a 63-60 lead at intermission.
—Field Level Media