INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Garnett found Jeff Green all alone under the basket for a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining to finish off a fourth-quarter comeback from 14 points down, and the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 83-81 on Wednesday night.
Garnett led the Celtics with 18 points and 10 rebounds and dragged Boston back after they trailed most of the final three quarters. Green had 11 points off the bench.
Paul George scored 16 points for the Pacers, who had all five starters in double figures. David West added 11 points and 16 rebounds, and George Hill finished with 14 points.
Center Roy Hibbert had his 14th double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Lance Stephenson returned to the starting lineup with Danny Granger back down with a sore knee and chipped in 12 points.
The Celtics’ final two baskets both came off busted defensive assignments. Avery Bradley was left all alone under the basket to tie the game at 81 off an assist from Garnett. The same happened on Green’s layup.
The Pacers didn’t make a basket in the last 4:35 of the game.
The first quarter was the Garnett against Hibbert show. Garnett knocked down three consecutive jumpers, including his first 3-pointer of the season, to score the first seven Boston points. The Celtics couldn’t match Hibbert’s size and allowed him to score 12 points and grab seven rebounds in the first quarter. He had his 14th double-double of the season by halftime.
Outside of Garnett, the Celtics struggled from the field and shot just 34.8 percent in the opening 12 minutes. Meanwhile, the Pacers got out in transition for easy buckets, including West’s baseline jumper and George’s layup to finish on a 9-2 run for a 27-19 lead.
The second quarter was much more physical and rugged until the Pacers finished the half with another spurt. George had two breakaway dunks, including one off a full-court football pass from Hill, but a defensive breakdown allowed Paul Pierce to finish a buzzer-beating layup to cut the Pacers’ lead to 49-42 at halftime.
Stephenson brought the third-quarter energy during a 12-5 run that gave Indiana its biggest lead of the game at 63-49. He pushed the ball for a steal off a layup, got another lay-in off dribble-drive penetration and threw down a one-hand dunk off a baseline feed from West.
The Celtics came out of a timeout with a 6-0 run capped by Pierce’s layup. Ian Mahinmi’s fadeaway jumper off an offensive rebound gave the Pacers a 68-58 lead heading into the final quarter.