May 25, 2018
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Pacers handle Celtics, gain conference lead

By The Sports Xchange, Special to the BDN

INDIANAPOLIS — Forward Paul George scored 24 points, guard Lance Stephenson had a triple-double, and the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 106-79 Sunday night to improve the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Stephenson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, his second triple-double in two games against the Celtics this season. Center Roy Hibbert added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 49 percent from the field.

Pacers forward Danny Granger, playing just his second game this season after sitting out with a strained left calf, scored 12 points and made four of five 3-pointers.

Indiana (22-5) won its second game in a row after losing three of five. The blowout followed a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Guard Avery Bradley scored 13 points and forward Jeff Green and guard Courtney Lee scored 11 points apiece for the Celtics (12-17), who entered the game tied for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Pacers were up by 15 at halftime and did their usual damage in the third quarter. George passed behind the back to point guard George Hill for a layup that gave Indiana a 60-41 lead early in the period.

Indiana started the second half with a 13-4 run that pushed its advantage to 65-41.

George hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 5:25 left in the third quarter. His free throw bumped Indiana’s lead to 69-44.

The Pacers led 80-58 at the end of the period. George scored 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the quarter to put the game out of reach.

Indiana got it going in the second quarter when Granger hit a 3-pointer with 7:08 remaining to give the Pacers a 32-23 lead. Granger hit another three two minutes later, and a three by Hill pushed Indiana’s lead to 47-28 with 2:55 left in the period.

The Pacers led 52-37 at halftime.

Indiana shot 49.4 percent and held Boston to 38.1 percent shooting.

On Saturday, the Washington Wizards rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit and then from eight down in the fourth quarter before pulling out a 106-99 win over the Celtics.

Young guard John Wall and veteran forward Trevor Ariza powered a 16-2 run over 4:45 down the stretch that gave the Wizards their third straight victory, all on the road, and ended their seven-game overall and four-game road losing streaks against Boston.

The Wizards (13-12) held the Celtics without a field goal for most of the final 6:14, as guard Avery Bradley’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and a running hook by forward Jared Sullinger with 12.7 seconds remaining were Boston’s only baskets down the stretch.

It was the second straight collapse by the Celtics, still in first place in the dreadful Atlantic Division but 12-16 after two straight tough home losses.

Wall, who finished with 20 points and nine assists, and Ariza, who grabbed eight rebounds, both scored five points and had an assist in the big finish.

Ariza was 5-for-8 from 3-point range and had eight rebounds.

Bradley had 12 points in three minutes in his big run. Sullinger had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and forward Brandon Bass added 11 points and 11 boards for Boston.

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