INDIANAPOLIS — Center Tyler Zeller, a Washington, Ind., native, had 18 points and seven rebounds Saturday night, leading the Boston Celtics to a 93-89 victory against the Indiana Pacers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The victory is the fourth straight for the Celtics (29-36), who also got 16 points each from forward Brandon Bass, forward Jae Crowder and guard Avery Bradley. Bass sank two free throws with 5.3 seconds left to ice it.
Guard George Hill led Indiana (30-35) with a season-high 30 points to go with five rebounds and eight assists. The Pacers, who got 13 points from guard C.J. Miles and 12 each from guards Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Watson, had a season-best seven-game winning streak snapped.
Boston outrebounded Indiana 47-42 and outscored the Pacers 15-12 at the free-throw line.
Boston led 80-68 before a 3-pointer from Watson and a Hill basket sliced the Celtics’ advantage to 80-73 with 5:43 remaining, prompting a Boston timeout. Another Watson 3-pointer cut the deficit to 80-76. But back-to-back field goals from Zeller gave the Celtics an 84-76 lead with 2:06 to play, and the Pacers never regained the lead.
Indiana scored the third quarter’s first five points to pull to within 45-42, but the consistent Celtics never surrendered the lead during the period and held a 67-60 advantage with 12 minutes to play.
Bass had eight third-quarter points and Bradley added seven for the Celtics, who outrebounded Indiana 12-7 in the period. Hill had 11 in the quarter for Indiana.
Taking advantage of five second-quarter turnovers, the Celtics outscored the Pacers 25-19 and led 45-37 through the first 24 minutes.
A 3-pointer from guard Marcus Smart gave Boston a 39-26 advantage with 3:51 left in the second quarter before the Pacers closed the period on an 11-6 run to get to within eight at intermission.
Zeller made all six of his first-half shots for the Celtics and led all scorers at halftime with 12 points. Crowder added nine for Boston.
Miles had 10 first-half points to lead Indiana, and forward David West, Stuckey and Hill each added six.
Boston made 19 of 46 first-half shots (41.3 percent), and Indiana made 15 of 41 (36.6 percent). The Celtics had 25 first-half rebounds, one more than Indiana.
NOTES: The Celtics were without F Jared Sullinger (left metatarsal stress fracture) and G Isaiah Thomas (bruised lower back). The Pacers were without G Donald Sloan (sprained right big toe). … After missing Thursday night’s overtime victory against Milwaukee with a sore left elbow, Pacers C Roy Hibbert returned to the starting lineup. … The Celtics entered with a three-game winning streak, including a 95-88 victory on Friday night over Orlando when G Evan Turner scored 30 points. … The Pacers entered having won 9 of 10 …Indiana entered with the No. 7 seed if with NBA Eastern Conference playoffs began tonight … The Pacers are in the midst of a nine-game stretch in which they are playing eight times in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. … The Celtics rank fourth in NBA assists with 24.2 per game. … Indiana ranks third in opponents’ points per game at 96.1 and in opponents’ field goal percentage at 43.2. … The teams entered Saturday’s game with a victory each this season in head-to-head play and will play for a fourth and final time on April 1 in Boston.
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