BOSTON – Tyrese Haliburton scored 33 points and the Indiana Pacers opened a 30-point lead in the first half before holding off the slumping Boston Celtics 117-112 on Wednesday night.
Former Celtics player Aaron Nesmith had 15 points, Chris Duarte added 14 and Myles Turner had 10 to help the Pacers win for just the second time in six games.
“We were certainly aware that they were going to come out in the second half and put everything into making a furious run, and they did," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “I was just really proud of the way we hung tough in difficult stretches. We found ways to get stops and get the ball in the basket.”
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 41 points after missing a game because of personal reasons, while point guard Marcus Smart sat out with a non-COVID illness.
Jaylen Brown added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, and Malcolm Brogdon had 18 points. Atop the NBA a week ago, the Celtics have dropped five of six.
“It's all about effort,” Brogdon said. “There's really not more much to it. We didn't really get the execution. You talk about execution in the first half, we didn't need to. We weren't playing hard enough to get the execution. We understood that it was about effort. I think we responded in the second half.”
Coming off consecutive home loss to Orlando, the Celtics fell behind by 30 points late in the second quarter before Tatum carried them back into it.
Indiana led 71-43 at the half, and the Celtics walked off the court to a spattering of boos echoing down from the fans at TD Garden.
“We just didn't play with a great sense of urgency, didn't play with awareness and didn't play with a sense of details,” Boston interim coach Joe Mazzulla said.
Tatum’s 3-pointer from the right wing cut Boston’s deficit to seven points midway into the final quarter.
Brown’s 3 made it 111-106 a few minutes later but Haliburton answered with a 3 from the top the next trip down the floor and the Pacers closed out the victory.
“Tyrese is a great player,” Carlisle said. “There's a lot of talk right now about All-Star and who's going to be in and who's not going to be in. Tyrese Haliburton is our All-Star. In less than a year, he's completely changed the trajectory of our franchise.”
The Pacers led by 19 points at the end of the first quarter and used an 11-0 run midway into the second, pulling ahead 59-30 before Nesmith’s 3 from the left corner gave them their first of three 30-point leads late in the opening half.
“It means a lot to me to take what I've learned from them and use it against them,” Nesmith said. “Just the little things every single day; not on the floor, but off the floor how they prepare.”
Duarte banked in an off-balance 3-pointer from deep on the left wing as the third- quarter buzzer sounded, giving the Pacers a 100-85 lead.
Pacers: The Pacers had a season-high 42 points in the first quarter when they shot 61.5% (16 of 26) and connected on 8 of 11 from 3-point range.
Celtics: Brown went tumbling over a TV table at midcourt early in the game but got right back up. … Three starters (Al Horford, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard) were scoreless in the first half.
Pacers: At New Orleans on Monday night.
Celtics: Host Minnesota on Friday night in the fourth of a seven-game homestand.
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