INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Pacers lost the lead, then lost sight of Jeff Green.
Kevin Garnett found Green all alone under the basket for a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining to finish off a comeback from 14 points down in the third quarter, and the Boston Celtics beat the Pacers 83-81 on Wednesday night.
``Happy it went in,' Green said. ``Great pass by Garnett. Great execution by us. Good draw up by Doc (Rivers).
``We have found ways to win. The trust is there now. Guys are giving what Doc wants. We are finding a way.'
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. West's double-double was also his 14th of the season.
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.
``We just didn't talk and didn't communicate,' George said about the final play.
Jason Terry scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.
``We got stops, we got easy transition points,' Green said. ``Guys made some tough shots. Paul made a couple threes. Jet made a 3. Garnett down low.
``Other guys are stepping up.'
The Pacers (38-23) were 4 for 20 in the fourth quarter and didn't score a single point in the last 4:35 of the game after George had followed two 3-pointers by Hill and a fast-break dunk with a 3 of his own to put the Pacers up 81-72.
``I just didn't think we had a good rhythm all night,' West said. ``We thought we did a good job defensively, having them under control. We just weren't able to respond on the offensive end with plays.
``As a group we just didn't have that rhythm. We were careless with the ball and we just didn't make some plays we were supposed to make.'
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, but was a non-factor down the stretch.
Outside of Garnett, the Celtics (33-27) 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 layup off a steal, 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.
``We were flat tonight and they got into us,' Rivers said. ``Indiana was great and pushed us around the floor in the first half. I thought we responded well in the second half; we just hang around.
``That's what we've been doing all year, just hanging around and we stole the game.'
Boston tied a season high with its third consecutive road win. Garnett was 7 for 10 from the field while the rest of Celtics went 27 for 73 (37.0 percent).
Notes: Vogel said Granger's knee hasn't caused him pain while playing, but has been sore afterward and the team doesn't want to push it. He could have played if it was a playoff game. ``We're looking at it as being precautionary, understanding it's still a long season, there's still a lot of time left,' Vogel said before the game. ``We want him to get back to 100 percent and this is the best way to do it. (He) did not push through when there's above average soreness. We're looking at it as it's hopefully going to be a short-term thing.'
The Associated Press News Service
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