INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Riding a five-game win streak and facing the team with the NBA’s best record, the Indiana Pacers had a chance to make a statement.
The Boston Celtics had other ideas.
Kyrie Irving scored 25 points and Al Horford added 21 to lead the Celtics to a 108-98 victory Saturday night.
“We were just being resilient as usual,” Irving said. “We were able to limit some things (in the third quarter) and we made our push.”
That’s one way to put it.
In a span of 10 minutes, Boston went from trailing 56-47 to leading 82-70. The Celtics outscored Indiana 37-16 in the third quarter and outrebounded the Pacers 11-3. Boston made nearly every facet of the game difficult for Indiana in the third quarter.
And with Indiana center Myles Turner on the bench for much of the period in foul trouble, the Celtics exploited Indiana’s defense both inside and out.
After taking a 54-45 lead into the half, Indiana looked to be in position to push its win streak to six. Lance Stephenson, starting in place of leading scorer Victor Oladipo (bruised right knee), had 12 points in the first quarter to get Indiana off to a solid start.
Domantas Sabonis, getting extra playing time with Turner in foul trouble, had seven points in the second along with Thaddeus Young. Each time the Celtics made a run, the Pacers had an answer.
But after the break, the Pacers went cold, and Boston took advantage.
Horford had 12 points in the third, when the Pacers had a pair of three-minute scoring droughts. Terry Rozier had eight points off the bench en route to a 17-point night.
Stephenson had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Sabonis had 17 points and eight boards.
“For us, it’s a night to learn. When you’re playing at a certain level,” coach Nate McMillan said, “you realize you have to take it to another level when you play a team like (Boston).”
Oladipo did not play for the first time this season. He sat with a bruised right knee sustained in Friday’s 107-104 win over Toronto and is day-to-day.
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