Playing in just his second game since returning from a hand injury that cost him a month of action, Gordon Hayward suffered another scare on Wednesday night. Fortunately, he seems to have avoided serious injury.

With just over six minutes remaining in a tightly contested battle with the Indiana Pacers, a driving No. 20 took a blow to the nose from the palm of Pacers forward Doug McDermott. Gordon was immediately knocked backward by the foul and went down to a knee. After a few moments to collect himself, G was escorted by Celtics trainers to the locker room. He did not return to the game, which Boston (17-6) wound up losing to Indiana (16-9), 122-117.

Though the loss left Boston to head home on a sour note, a bit of good news came from Gordon after the game. N0. 20 passed initial concussion tests and was also fortunate to avoid a broken nose. He was set to undergo further testing Thursday morning to see if he can be cleared to play Thursday night at home.

“I just got hit in the nose and immediately couldn’t really see much and felt pretty dizzy. I think because of that, I had to come back here and go through the concussion [testing] and make sure that everything was OK,” Hayward later recalled from inside the visitor’s locker room. “I still have a pretty good headache right now, but hopefully by tomorrow it should be good. We’ll see tomorrow morning.”

Wednesday’s game in Indianapolis was to be a homecoming of sorts for G-Time who grew up in Circle City, where he went to Brownsburg High School and later starred as a collegiate player in Indy at Butler.
He started that homecoming off on the right foot, showing flashes of his old self and playing with his signature aggressiveness and shooting touch. He tallied a couple of first-quarter points on a contested jumper off the glass late in the quarter as Boston established a 32-30 lead after one.

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No. 20 missed his first few shots of the second quarter as Boston fell behind, but managed to score a couple of buckets late in the frame as the Celtics trimmed their deficit to four at halftime.
For G-Time, these first few games back from the hand injury have been all about rediscovering his shooting stroke and rhythm out on the floor. Before the injury in early November, Gordon was putting All-Star caliber numbers – averaging 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

“[I’m trying to] build some of the rhythm [back] that I established,” Hayward said pregame. “Still try to get good shots for myself, for our team. If you focus on the defensive side first, it kinda gives you that rhythm. So, tonight will be a tough game because they are really good offensively.”

Indeed Indiana proved to be a tough test for the Celtics defense, which allowed an uncharacteristic 60 first-half points and more than 120 points for just the second time this season.

Gordon added another bucket in the fourth and seemed to be finding that rhythm he spoke about before the game, before suffering the injury that ended his night early. He finished the game with nine points on 4-for-8 shooting, three assists and one rebound in 25 minutes.

Boston clearly missed him down the stretch. They led by four, 100-96 when he left the game and were outscored 26-17 in the final minutes. However, Celtics coach Brad Stevens pointed to the team’s 15 turnovers as a more important issue in the team’s defeat.

“No question you want to have your best guys available at the end of the game,” Stevens said. “But that start of the fourth quarter with all those turnovers and the way we were getting outplayed – that second unit really took it to us. The first half we were up nine, then they took it to us and got that lead for them. Same exact story in the second (half). Hats off to those guys.”

Boston’s Kemba Walker did all he could to keep the Celtics, with a season-high 44 points – including 7-of-15 from beyond the arc — single-handily accounting for more than a third of the team’s points.

“Kemba really showed up and played great,” Stevens said.

In addition to Walker, four other C’s found themselves in double-digits offensively. Jaylen Brown put up 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Jayson Tatum went for 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Daniel Theis added 11 points and six boards of his own and former Pitt product Brad Wanamaker contributed 12 points off the bench.

But it wasn’t enough as the Celtics defense allowed the second-most points they have all season in a losing effort. The loss also extended Boston’s road woes. The Celts are now 7-6 away from the friendly hardwood of TD Garden. On their home court they stand unblemished at 10-0.

They’ll put that streak on the line on Thursday night as they finish the back-to-back with a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Gordon hopes to be cleared to suit up for the huge contest.

“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow,” he stated optimistically. “Hopefully everything’s back to normal.”

Tip-off from TD Garden is scheduled for shortly after 8 p.m. and the game can be seen nationwide on TNT.