THE NITTY GRITTY
There was a two-minute stretch midway through the first quarter in which the Celtics briefly owned a five-point lead. The Pacers dominated much of the other 46. Paul George scored 18 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter, while Roy Hibbert (15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks) governed around the basket. Lance Stephenson hung around long enough in the fourth quarter to polish off a triple-double (12 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists over 35 minutes) for the Pacers. Avery Bradley scored a team-high 13 points for Boston, but cooled after a fast start. Bradley and Brandon Bass were a team-worst minus-19 in plus/minus (not that any of Boston's players were much better in that category). The Celtics didn't score their first points in the paint until 19:15 into the game, which tells you about Hibbert's influence there.
Hard to believe, but it was still a one-possession game with just over eight minutes to play in the first half, but the Pacers embarked on a 15-1 run that culminated with a Danny Granger 3-pointer for a 38-24 lead with 5:06 to play in the second quarter. Boston got no closer than 15 in the second half while the lead ballooned as high as 27.
A CHANCE FOR BROOKS
MarShon Brooks, stuck in the land of DNPs lately, got 10 minutes of fourth-quarter playing time. He made one of his two attempts, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds in a rare opportunity to state his case for playing time. He was Boston's only player not in the negative for plus-minus, but he wasn't in positive. He was even over his floor time.
The Pacers owned a 50-22 advantage in points in the paint and outrebounded Boston 53-41. Boston had no answers for Indiana's size and the Pacers just bullied Boston's undersized frontcourt early on. ... The Celtics shot 38.1 percent from the floor (32 of 84), but the Pacers finished at 49.4 percent (41 of 83). ... Keith Bogans was a healthy DNP.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (12-17) head into a five-day holiday break on a three-game losing streak. They knew Sunday's game in Indy would be tough, but that's only going to leave them kicking themselves about giving away big leads in recent losses to Detroit and Washington. Boston will take the next three days completely off before reconvening at practice the day after Christmas. The Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers next Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.