Isaiah Thomas takes over in the fourth as surging Celtics fend off skidding Pacers late rally
Isaiah Thomas scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to quash a fiery Pacers rally. AP

ISAIAH Thomas took charge in the second half, scoring 20 of his 28 points after the break, to help the Boston Celtics hold off the Indiana Pacers, 109-102, at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

The Celtics overcame a hot start from Paul George as they held down the Pacers to just nine points in the second quarter to turn a nine-point deficit to an 11-point lead at the break, 51-40.

Boston led by as much as 17 late in the third before Jeff Teague took over and helped the Pacers cut the gap to four midway through the fourth, 87-83.

Thomas pushed the lead back up to 10, 93-83, with four minutes left but the Pacers stayed within reach, trailing only by three, 103-100, with 24 ticks left on a Teague triple. The Celtics, though, proved steadier at the stripe, knocking down crucial free throws in the dying seconds to preserve the win.

Thomas had 14 in the fourth, while Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder each had clutch charities down the stretch and scored 15 apiece to help the Celtics win their fourth straight game. Boston now sits at 17-12.

Meanwhile, the Pacers saw Teague explode for 31 points but was not enough to prevent their second loss in a row to fall to 15-16. Paul George and CJ Miles each added 19 markers, while Thaddeus Young had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.

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