INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Isaiah Thomas loves the fourth quarter, and he finished with a flourish Thursday night.
Thomas scored 14 of his 28 points in the final period, leading the Boston Celtics to a 109-102 victory against the Indiana Pacers.
“Fourth quarter ain’t for everybody,” Thomas said. “That’s when it really matters. I just embraced the opportunity. … I love when the game is close — I want to be that type of guy. I just do what I’ve always done, I guess.”
Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder each scored 15 points for the Celtics, who have won four in a row. Marcus Smart had 12 points, and Amir Johnson and Kelly Olnyk finished with 11 apiece.
Boston outscored Indiana 29-9 in the second quarter, turning a nine-point deficit into a 51-40 halftime lead. The Pacers pulled within four late in the game, but were unable to catch the Celtics down the stretch.
“We got ourselves into a big hole in the second quarter, and that’s hard to crawl out of,” said Paul George, who scored 19 points for Indiana. “We made them take contested shots, but all of their guys can shoot 3-pointers, which makes them hard to guard. The Celtics set the tempo, and it’s up to us to match that.”
Jeff Teague led Indiana with 31 points and eight assists. CJ Miles also scored 19 points, and Thaddeus Young had 15 points and 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
Miles made a 3-pointer to trim Boston’s lead to 87-83 with 5:26 left, but Al Horford responded with a reverse layup for Boston. Thomas then made two foul shots and a layup to make it 93-83 with 4:10 to go.
Thomas and Crowder each made two free throws in the final 15 seconds to help the Celtics hold on for the win.
Horford finished with eight points and 11 rebounds and Thomas also collected nine assists as Boston closed out a perfect three-game road trip.
“The last game of the trip is always the biggest one,” Thomas said. “We’ve had a successful road trip and we got some confidence from it.”
Pacers: G Monta Ellis missed his seventh straight game with a groin injury. … Coupled with Tuesday’s loss to the Knicks, the Pacers have dropped consecutive games on five occasions this season. … Indiana dropped to 2-5 against opponents from the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division.
Celtics: Thomas has led Boston in scoring 22 times this season. … Bradley has scored 10 or more points in each of Boston’s 29 games this season.
Pacers: Visit the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Celtics: Host Oklahoma City on Friday.
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