BOSTON — The Boston Celtics played a sloppy second half and the Indiana Pacers made them pay Friday night.
Down by eight points at halftime, the Pacers charged back for a 97-82 win behind 27 points from Paul George to improve the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana (11-1) has trailed at halftime in nine games. Its latest comeback was helped by Boston’s 16 turnovers in the second half, leading to 23 points.
“Our starters, as a unit, have a gear defensively that they can reach that’s pretty special,” Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said. “They hit that in the third and took control of the game.”
The Pacers shut down Jordan Crawford after he made all eight of his field-goal attempts and scored 19 points in the first half. He finished with a season-high 24.
“I think probably I was lackadaisical,” he said, “disappointed in myself, didn’t complete the game.”
Crawford committed six turnovers in the second half when Boston, which hit 59 percent of its shots in the first half, connected on just 40 percent.
“We passed (the Pacers) the ball too much,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said. “That probably had a lot to do with our shot selection.”
Trailing 50-42 at halftime, Indiana outscored Boston 25-8 in the third quarter to take a 67-58 lead. It was the Celtics’ lowest-scoring quarter of the season, worse than the 11 points they had in the second quarter of a 93-87 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 30. The Pacers kept rolling with a 30-24 fourth quarter.
George had 22 points in the second half.
“Whatever the circumstance is in the first half,” he said, halftime “is the time for us to re-evaluate what’s going on.”
David West and Luis Scola each had 17 points for Indiana, which had lost its previous four games against Boston. Lance Stephenson had 10 points, 10 assists, 11 rebounds and four steals.
“We need to come out and destroy teams early,” Stephenson said. “We can’t rely on the second half to win the game.”
Jeff Green scored 20 for the Celtics, who lost their sixth straight to drop to 4-10 after winning four straight.
The rebuilding Celtics played impressively in the first half against a team that had won five of its first 11 games by at least 10 points. But Boston had more turnovers, nine, than points in the third quarter. And West outscored Boston’s entire team in the quarter with 10 points.
“Our guys’ energy level, enthusiasm and intensity was really the difference” in the second half,” West said.
The Pacers took their first lead since 7-6 on a tip-in by Roy Hibbert that made it 55-54 with 5:48 left in the third quarter.