NBA regular season

Pacers nearly blow 28-point lead, hold on to escape Celtics comeback

Pacers nearly blow 28-point lead, hold on to escape Celtics comeback

ALMOST. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts after being fouled during the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at the TD Garden

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports-Reuters

Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers withstand Jayson Tatum's 41-point bomb as the Boston Celtics fall short of a 28-point comeback by just 5

Tyrese Haliburton scored 20 of his 33 points in the first half to help the Indiana Pacers beat the host Boston Celtics 117-112 on Wednesday night (Thursday, December 22, Manila time)

Haliburton shot 12 of 24 from the field, hit six 3-pointers and added eight assists and three rebounds as Indiana broke a two-game skid.

The Pacers led by 28 points at halftime and held off a furious Boston comeback that included a 42-point third quarter.

Former Celtic Aaron Nesmith scored 15 points, Chris Duarte had 14 thanks largely to four 3-pointers, and Myles Turner added 10.

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 41 points, Jaylen Brown added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Malcolm Brogdon had 18 and seven assists as Boston fell to 0-3 on its seven-game homestand.

Robert Williams III had 12 rebounds for the Celtics, who have lost five of their past six games.

Boston guard Marcus Smart was out due to a non-COVID illness.

Indiana turned an early six-point deficit into a 23-11 lead with an 18-0 spurt. It was 42-22 Pacers after one quarter.

Haliburton and Hield hit back-to-back triples part way through the streak to put the Pacers ahead by five. Driving layups by Hield and Turner prompted a Boston timeout.

Another Haliburton trey preceded Sam Hauser’s streak-breaking, second-chance layup at the 4:12 mark. Two Williams dunks brought Boston within 33-19, but Indiana hit three more threes — including one by Duarte with 2.7 seconds left — by quarter’s end.

The Pacers were in full control at the half thanks in large part to a 13-0 run that included a Smith 3-pointer and a Nesmith layup. Nesmith’s triple with 1:07 left gave Indiana a 30-point lead.

Boston’s 8-0 run to open the second half was stopped with two baskets.

Duarte hit two last-minute treys to lift Indiana to a 100-85 edge at the third-quarter buzzer, despite Tatum posting 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the frame.

Tatum hit two 3-pointers off offensive rebounds to cut Boston’s deficit to 106-99 midway through the fourth. Haliburton’s transition trey put Indiana back up by 10 with 4:14 left.

Boston was within five with 3:06 to go, but a 6-0 Indiana run followed. Tatum scored six straight in the last 2:01 to slice into the final margin. –

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