BOSTON -- The Celtics will not be making the playoffs this season in all likelihood. They know it. One of them admitted it early Saturday evening.
"It's not like we're in the middle of a playoff race," injured forward Gerald Wallace said, explaining why he was in no rush to return to the floor.
Yet, when the Pacers took the TD Garden parquet later that night, one would have been hard-pressed to tell that the team clad in green and white had nothing for which to play.
The Celtics got all-out efforts from Jeff Green, Kris Humphries and Rajon Rondo, but fell to the Eastern Conference's best team, 102-97.
Two Paul George reverse layups and a three-pointer in the final three minutes of play were enough to push the Pacers over the top to their fourth victory in a row. George finished with 25 points on 9-of-20 shooting. He was also 3-for-6 from behind the arc.
It appeared as though the Celtics had a one-point game on their hands with two minutes left to play, but during a timeout, it was determined that a Rondo trey that was banked home moments earlier had not beaten the shot clock.
The Celtics point guard finished the game with 12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to help the Celtics keep it close.
Humphries chipped in with 18 points and 10 rebounds, including an offensive rebound tip jam to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter that gave the Celtics a 78-76 lead.
Jeff green led all players with 27 points and played a game-high 43 minutes.
Jared Sullinger returned after missing Boston's three previous games due to a concussion and had 10 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes.