INDIANAPOLIS — George Hill said the difference during the Pacers' last two games was obvious.
"Playing together more, not just on the offensive end but on the defensive end," said Hill, who scored 10 points. "We have been helping each other and communicating a lot better and being there for one another. As long as we do that, we will be a pretty solid team."
George had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Hill added 16 points and 10 boards, and Indiana beat the Boston Celtics 100-98 on Wednesday night.
Monta Ellis made two free throws with 13.7 seconds left to snap a 98-all tie after he was fouled by Avery Bradley.
"We drew a play up that Paul (George) was going to fake the screen and slip out and he was coming full steam and got caught up in a bad position," Ellis said.
Bradley then missed a potential winning 3-point attempt for the Celtics (1-3).
"They forced us out of the play we were trying to run and Isaiah (Thomas) still made a great play," Bradley said. "He drove and they double-teamed him and I tried to shoot a last-minute 3 up and George Hill played great defense."
George, who recorded his second double-double of the season, felt he needed to get some more shooting in and arrived at the arena around 2:30 p.m. He said he took a few hundred shots to get back into a better shooting rhythm.
The workout translated to his best performance of the season, shooting 8 of 18 from the field, including 5 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Indiana had led by as much as 10 points in the first half, but Boston slowly chipped away and overtook the Pacers at 62-61 on Jared Sullinger's 3-pointer with 4:52 to play in the third quarter.
Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting, while Bradley added 21 points.
George found his shooting stroke and scored six points during an 8-0 run by the Pacers in the first quarter just as the Celtics missed seven straight. The Indiana lead was 19-11.
Boston's shooting improved as the game went on and the Celtics utilized a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take an 82-78 lead, their largest of the game.
The Pacers immediately responded with an 11-2 run, capped by Hill's jumper.
Celtics: Boston started Amir Johnson, Sullinger and Thomas in place of David Lee, Tyler Zeller and Marcus Smart, who was out with a mysterious left big toe injury. . R.J. Hunter scored his first professional basket with 5:16 to play in the second quarter. His father, Ron, was in attendance. He coached Pacers guard George Hill at IUPUI.
Pacers: Glenn Robinson III saw his first action of the season. The second-year forward totaled 10 points and a pair of rebounds in his 19:12 minutes of action. . Jordan Hill started in place of the injured C.J Miles for the second time this season.
POUNDING THE BOARDS
For the first time this season, Indiana outrebounded its opponent, finishing with a 53-49 advantage. The Pacers had a 24-11 edge in second-chance points.
"In all sincerity, my most memorable moments in this area have not been in green yet. My most memorable moments have been in blue (as Butler University's coach). We beat Indiana as the No. 1 team in the country. We finally got off the snide with me here last year in March." — Celtics coach Brad Stevens on being back at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Members of both the Pacers and Celtics honored Pacers great Mel Daniels, who passed away on Friday, by donning white shootaround shirts with SLIM 34 on the front and his statistical accomplishments on the back. Daniels was twice named the ABA MVP, three-time ABA champion and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Celtics: Host Washington on Friday.
Pacers: Host Miami on Friday.