EditorsNote: corrects time of Rozier’s layup in fourth graf
Rozier, Celtics steal win from Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS — For more than 40 minutes on Monday night, it looked like the Boston Celtics would glide to yet another victory.
With 30 seconds to go, it looked like Indiana Pacers would snatch one away from the Eastern Conference’s best team.
Then Terry Rozier made a play that will undoubtedly appear on a Celtics’ season highlight reel.
A Rozier steal and go-ahead layup with 1.5 seconds remaining gave the Celtics a wild 112-111 win over the Pacers.
Boston gave up a 19-point lead to the Pacers late in the fourth quarter, but a furious late rally was capped by Rozier’s steal and game-winner, giving the Celtics a 112-111 victory.
As the Pacers were inbounding the ball with four seconds remaining, Rozier intercepted a Bjoan Bogdanovic pass intended for Victor Oladipo and broke free the other way for the game-winning layup.
“It’s a tough, tough loss,” Oladipo said after Indiana lost to Boston for the fifth straight time. “We gave ourselves a chance to win and we competed with the best team in the Eastern Conference. We can be that good. We just have to keep on getting better.”
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 30 points. Al Horford flirted with a triple double, scoring 14 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out nine assists. Jayson Tatum chipped in 16 points and Marcus Smart added 15.
“That was one helluva of a game to be a part of,” Irving said after Boston won for the eighth time in 12 games.
Indiana was paced by Oladipo’s 38 points, 30 of which came after halftime. Domantas Sabonis scored 18 points off the bench. Center Myles Turner had a season-low two points and sat for most of the fourth.
Early on it looked Boston might coast to an easy win as the Celtics wasted little time Monday night showing why they have the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Hitting their first 10 shots from the floor, the Celtics led into the game’s final minutes.
The Celtics (26-7) were up by as many as 19 points, but the Pacers (17-14) trimmed a 15-point halftime deficit to seven heading into the fourth quarter.
The lead continued to shrink throughout the fourth quarter with an Oladipo 3-point play tying the score at 100, with 1:52 to play.
Two possessions later, Oladipo gave the Pacers their first lead of the night with a three pointer from the top of the key.
Another Oladipo layup on the next trip down the floor gave Indiana a five-point lead with just 31.3 seconds to go.
But the Celtics weren’t done. Irving drilled two contested 3-pointers in the next 20 seconds to cut the lead to 110-109 with 9.3 seconds left.
“Kyrie made two incredible shots,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
The Celtics made 16 of 26 from three-point range. The 61.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc was a season-best for Boston.
Boston scored 38 first-quarter points on Monday and shot 60 percent in the opening half.
Indiana had just two assists in the first half and finished the night with 14, a season-low.
“It’s a 48-minute game and we just lost our composure,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said of the poor execution. “Some miscues down the stretch that cost us that game.
“We have to figure out a way to get off to better starts. I thought they punched us in the mouth right from the start and we dug ourselves a hole. A good team like this, you’ve got to be solid. You can’t let yourself get into holes like that and fight your way out and expect to win those games.”
NOTES: Boston started the game on a 12-0 run. The Celtics 38 first-quarter points were the most the Pacers have allowed in a first quarter this season. ... The Pacers have now completed seven of their 14 back-to-backs this season. Only three NBA teams play fewer back-to-backs this year. ... Pacers veteran C Al Jefferson saw action during the first quarter. Jefferson had been a DNP — Coach’s Decision in the previous 17 games. Jefferson didn’t score in four minutes off the bench.