March 17, 2018
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Powerful Pacers beat up rebuilding Celtics

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — The powerful Indiana Pacers toyed with the Boston Celtics, then exploded after halftime en route to a 97-82 victory on Friday night.

The win, the second straight after their first loss of the season, moved the Pacers to 11-1. They entered the game tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA’s best record.

The rebuilding Celtics lost their sixth game in a row to fall to 4-10.

The Celtics, getting 19 points from guard Jordan Crawford, led by eight at the half but then scored only eight in the third quarter, Indiana scoring 25 as the Celtics went 3-for-14 and turned the ball over 11 times.

The rally continued into the fourth quarter as the Pacers led by as many as 20.

Forward Paul George led the Pacers with 27 points, 22 in the second half. Forwards David West and Luis Scola added 17 points apiece. Guard Lance Stephenson recorded the second triple-double of his NBA career, both in the last five games, with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Crawford, who hit his first nine shots, finished with a season-high 24 points and forward Jeff Green added 20 for Boston.

Celtics rookie forward Kelly Olynyk left the game in the first half with a right ankle sprain and did not return.

Before the game, Celtics rookie coach Brad Stevens — who left Butler, also in Indianapolis for his new job — talked about the Pacers.

“I grew up a Pacers fan and that was the team I rooted for for the first 36 years of my life,” Stevens said. “Now, they’ve got the best team I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Of course that’s how it works, right?”

Stevens’ team then went out and played a strong first half, as Crawford surpassed his season high with a 30-foot banked 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer to give the Celtics an eight-point halftime lead.

Crawford was perfect in the half, even hitting Boston’s only free throw attempt, which came after a defensive three-second call against the Pacers. Crawford was 8-for-8 from the field, 2-for-2 from 3-point range and 1-for-1 from the foul line, also dishing out three assists, grabbing a rebound and adding a steal.

NOTES: The Celtics held a pre-game moment of silence on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. … Indiana G C.J. Watson was out with an upper respiratory infection. … Pacers coach Frank Vogel started his NBA career as the Celtics’ video director. “Every nook and cranny of this building has some sort of memory of a win or a loss or an experience,” he said before the game. “Just like this whole city, when you walk around the city, there’s so many memories here. It’s always great coming back here.” … Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens started the front line tandem of C Kelly Olynyk and F Jared Sullinger, rather than go with true C Vitor Faverani against the bigger Pacers. Stevens likes the way Olynyk and Sullinger have played when together. Sullinger had 19 points and 17 rebounds Wednesday night in his first start of the season.

Hawks 96, Pistons 89

Jeff Teague totaled 18 points and nine assists as visiting Atlanta took down Detroit for the second consecutive game.

Al Horford added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks (8-5), who had five players reach double figures. Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver each pitched in 14 and DeMarre Carroll finished with 12 for Atlanta, which has won six of eight.

Kyle Singler scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the Pistons (4-8), who have lost seven of nine. Rodney Stuckey pitched in with 17 off the bench for Detroit while former Hawk Josh Smith, who failed to register a point, missed all seven of his field goal attempts in 20 minutes off the bench.

The Pistons used a 9-2 run, capped by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s jumper, to pull within 82-81 with 6:32 remaining. The teams traded runs and leads in the ensuing minutes before Atlanta closed out the game on a 10-2 charge, led by seven points from Carroll, to complete the home-and-home sweep.

The Hawks jumped out to a 27-22 lead after the opening quarter before the teams were deadlocked in the second and Atlanta hit the break up 49-44. Horford paced the offense for the Hawks at the half with 12 points, while Singler bested all Detroit scorers with 14 at the midway point.


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