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Brown, Tatum pair up to lead Celtics past Pacers 128-123

BOSTON (AP) – Jaylen Brown scored 32 points and Jayson Tatum had 31 to help the Boston Celtics stop a rare late-season stumble and beat the Indiana Pacers 128-123 on Friday night.

It was the eighth time this season that “The Jays” each scored at least 30 points.

“We’re not trying to take turns. Just playing the game the right way,” Tatum said. “If he takes six good shots in a row, that’s fine with me.”

The Pacers lost their sixth straight game despite getting 30 points from Tyrese Haliburton before he fouled out early in the fourth quarter with Indiana trailing 103-101.

The Celtics led 124-120 with 40 seconds left when Al Horford found Tatum coming down the lane for a dunk that all but sealed Boston’s win.

FROM LEFT: Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown; and Jayson Tatum. PHOTO: AP

Horford scored 17 points with 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who had won 24 of 28 games before losing to Toronto last Monday night without four of their starters. They followed it up with a loss to Miami on Wednesday – the first time they lost back-to-back games in two months as they climbed from below .500 to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

But a loss to the Pacers, a non-playoff team with the fifth-most losses in the league, would have been more concerning.

“Credit to them for making it tough on you,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

“They’re playing loose and free with nothing to lose right now. You can tell. At the same time, we’re aiding them.”

Oshae Brissett and Jalen Smith scored 17 points apiece for the Pacers. The Celtics scored 11 of the first 13 points in the game before giving up the next nine to tie it.

Boston took a 37-28 at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 10 points in the second.

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