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Pacers 106, Celtics 79

The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forward Paul George scored 24 points, guard Lance Stephenson had a triple-double, and the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 106-79 Sunday night to improve the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Stephenson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, his second triple-double in two games against the Celtics this season. Center Roy Hibbert added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 49 percent from the field.

Pacers forward Danny Granger, playing just his second game this season after sitting out with a strained left calf, scored 12 points and made four of five 3-pointers.

Indiana (22-5) won its second game in a row after losing three of five. The blowout followed a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Guard Avery Bradley scored 13 points and forward Jeff Green and guard Courtney Lee scored 11 points apiece for the Celtics (12-17), who entered the game tied for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Pacers were up by 15 at halftime and did their usual damage in the third quarter. George passed behind the back to point guard George Hill for a layup that gave Indiana a 60-41 lead early in the period.

Indiana started the second half with a 13-4 run that pushed its advantage to 65-41.

George hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 5:25 left in the third quarter. His free throw bumped Indiana's lead to 69-44.

The Pacers led 80-58 at the end of the period. George scored 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the quarter to put the game out of reach.

Indiana got it going in the second quarter when Granger hit a 3-pointer with 7:08 remaining to give the Pacers a 32-23 lead. Granger hit another three two minutes later, and a three by Hill pushed Indiana's lead to 47-28 with 2:55 left in the period.

The Pacers led 52-37 at halftime.

Indiana shot 49.4 percent and held Boston to 38.1 percent shooting.

NOTES: Brad Stevens led Butler University, an Indianapolis school, to the NCAA title game twice before taking over as the Celtics' head coach. He was cheered when he was introduced before starting lineups were announced. ... The Pacers won the previous meeting 97-82 in Boston. Indiana took control of that game by outscoring the Celtics 25-8 in the third quarter. ... The Pacers led 20-17 at the end of the first quarter Sunday night after holding Boston to 30 percent shooting. ... The Pacers had 17 assists in the first half to five for the Celtics, and Indiana finished with a 28-16 edge in that category.
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