INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 31 points, including the final four in the last minute of overtime, and the Boston Celtics outlasted the Indiana Pacers 142-138 Thursday night.
Jaylen Brown added 30 points as the Celtics improved the NBA’s best record to 43-17.
“It was fun,” Brown said. “The more we are tested in those moments, I think it helps for the long run.”
It was 138-all with 56.2 seconds left before Tatum hit a pair of free throws. He capped the scoring with a tip-in off the glass with 10.4 seconds to go.
“I’m glad we won,” said Tatum, who had only six points at halftime. “I just tried to find ways to make plays on both ends so we could win and everybody could feel better about themselves.”
Myles Turner tied his career high with 40 points for the Pacers. He made a career-best eight 3-pointers and Indiana shot 22 of 49 overall on 3s.
“You can’t ask for a better fight,” Turner said. “That was the No. 1 team in the league. We go toe-to-toe with them and go to overtime. We don’t want any pity, but I think we’re taking a step in the right direction.”
In a game with 17 lead changes by the end of the fourth quarter, the Pacers had the last shot in regulation, but Tyrese Haliburton’s deep 3-pointer from the top of key bounced off the back rim.
“I missed and that’s on me,” Haliburton said. “I should have got us a better (shot). Put it on me.”
Haliburton had 22 points and 14 assists. Buddy Hield, the league’s 3-point leader, made four 3s and finished with 18 points. Bennedict Mathurin added 19 points off the bench.
Malcolm Brogdon, a former Pacers point guard, scored 24 off the bench for Boston.
“It had a playoff-like atmosphere, we had to withstand some runs, we had to adjust, we had to execute and make plays,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I liked the fact we had to go through that. You have to win games like that and you have to be in games like that.”
The Pacers rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to outscore the Celtics 39-32 in the third quarter. Turner sank three 3s in the period as the Pacers made eight beyond the arc.
“It was just high-level basketball out there, especially in that third quarter, it was like nobody was missing,” Haliburton said.
Celtics: Improved league-best road record to 19-10. … Tatum is averaging a career-high 30.6 points, nearly four points above his previous season best. The sixth-year pro scored a record 55 points to earn NBA All-Star MVP honors on Sunday.
Pacers: Dropped to 18-15 at home. … Haliburton leads league in assists at 10.3 per game and is second in points/assists double-doubles with 25.
Celtics: Visit Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
Pacers: Visit Orlando Magic on Saturday.