BOSTON (AP) – Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points after nearly missing the game with an eye injury sustained hours before tip-off, and the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 100-87 Wednesday night in a matchup of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.
Tyler Zeller scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half and Evan Turner finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for Boston, which is a half-game out of a playoff spot. The Celtics sit just behind Brooklyn and Miami, who are tied for seventh place in the East.
The top eight teams reach the postseason.
George Hill had 21 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 16 for the Pacers, who lost for the ninth time in 11 games and fell two games behind Boston.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens thought Olynyk would miss the game after taking an elbow to the left eye from teammate Shavlik Randolph while playing 1-on-1.
Olynyk came out a few minutes after teammates were in the layup line, tossed his warmups on the bench and ran over to join in. He played nearly 22 minutes and nailed seven of 10 shots. His 3-pointer made it 94-78 with 3:52 to play.
“It swelled up right away,” Stevens said before the game. “I’d say he’s very unlikely for tonight.”
The Celtics saw their 18-point lead cut to six twice in the final quarter, but took control with a 10-3 spurt to make it 87-74 with just under six minutes to play. Jae Crowder started the run with two free throws and capped it with a breakaway dunk.
Leading by 11 at halftime, Boston used a 9-2 run at the start of the second half to open a 59-41 edge before the Pacers started pounding the ball inside to Roy Hibbert during a run that helped them slice it to 68-62 after three.
The Celtics outscored the Pacers 9-2 over the final 2 minutes of the first half en route to a 50-39 edge at the break.
Pacers: Coach Frank Vogel said Stuckey and C.J. Miles were both “pretty banged up,” but they both saw action. Stuckey played 19 minutes and Miles scored 12 points in 29 minutes. Miles played just 6:23 in the previous game.
Celtics: Marcus Smart came down hard on his back in the fourth quarter while fighting for a rebound, but stayed in the game. … Stevens wasn’t about to fuel rumors that he could be on a list of names for the coaching vacancy at Texas. “I’ll be in Boston,” he said.
Pacers: Host Charlotte on Friday.
Celtics: Host Milwaukee on Friday.