The Journal Gazette
Saturday, April 06, 2019 1:00 am


Pacers lose to likely playoff foe

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Jason Tatum scored 22 points and Gordon Hayward added 21 in his return to Indianapolis on Friday night to lead the Boston Celtics to a crucial 117-97 victory over the Pacers.

The Celtics broke a tie with Indiana for the No. 4 seed in the East and essentially took a two-game lead in the chase for home-court advantage because they won the season series 3-1 – giving them the tiebreaker, too. Boston also is building postseason momentum with three straight wins and five in their last six games.

Indiana's two-game winning streak ended. Myles Turner led the Pacers with 15 points and seven rebounds.Domantas Sabonis and Tyreke Evans each scored 12.

But the Celtics exposed some problems that could become major concerns for the Pacers when the teams likely meet in a first-round, best-of-seven series, starting next weekend.

They repeatedly broke down Indiana's defense – and it showed right from the start.

They jumped to a 10-3 lead out of the gate and opened the second quarter with seven straight points to turn a 27-24 deficit into a 31-27 lead. The Celtics scored the final four points of the half and led 58-47.

THUNDER 123, PISTONS 110: In Oklahoma City, Paul George scored 30 points to lead Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who have won two straight as they try to avoid the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Detroit's Blake Griffin finished with 45 points, but he scored just one point in the fourth quarter as Oklahoma City broke open a close game. The Pistons fell to eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Griffin made a deep 3-pointer in the closing seconds of first half to put the Pistons up 66-65 at the break. He scored 31 points before the break and made 6 of 9 3-pointers.

MAGIC 149, HAWKS 113: In Orlando, Florida, the Magic used a franchise-record 81 points in the first half to cruise in their regular-season home finale and take another step toward a playoff berth.

Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier scored 25 points each for Orlando, which set a season high for points despite having 19 turnovers. Vucevic added 10 rebounds to compile his 59th double-double of the season. Ross made six 3-pointers, and Fournier shot 11 for 14.

The Magic's 20th win in 29 games left them at 40-40. With road games remaining at Boston and Charlotte, they are attempting to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Orlando entered the night in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and leapfrogged idle Brooklyn, which is 39-40.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

TIMBERWOLVES 111, HEAT 109: In Minneapolis, Karl-Anthony Towns had 13 points and 12 rebounds as Minnesota slowed Miami's push for a postseason berth as Dwyane Wade's 3-pointer try at the buzzer missed the mark.

Dario Saric scored 19 points for the Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins added 18 and Gorgui Dieng finished with a season-high 19 off the bench.

Wade scored 24 points for Miami. Dion Waiters scored 22 and shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range, but the Heat missed a chance to pull into a tie with Brooklyn in the race for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

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