Final, Thunder win 119-96: The Celtics never got a chance to draft Reggie Jackson out of Boston College in 2011. He was taken a spot ahead of them. But he played like he had something to prove against the green team anyway on Sunday.
Jackson erupted for a career-high 27 points as the Thunder (27-7) ran away and hid from the Celtics (13-21) in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant was hardly needed but he scored 21 points anyway.
The Thunder just had an easy time at their offensive end, where the Celtics had no answers. OKC shot 52 percent, committed just nine turnovers in the game and put up more points against the Celtics than any team this season. The Celtics were perfectly fine at their offensive end, shooting 48 percent from deep and getting 19 points each from Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. But the inability to stop the Thunder from doing whatever they wanted made anything the Celtics did on offense irrelevant.
Fourth quarter, 2:50, Thunder 115-95: Assuming the rest of the NBA hasn’t suddenly figured out Jared Sullinger, the Celtics’ second-year big man should get his game back at some point. It just won’t be tonight.
Sullinger fouls out after just 19 minutes of unproductive court time. He scored nine points on 3-for-11 shooting. Kris Humphries picked up the slack a little with 14 points, but Hump can’t pick it up for both Celtics big men. Brandon Bass missed four of his five shots and has been replaced by Vitor Faverani to close out this blowout.
Fourth quarter, 4:55, Thunder 111-92: Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and the Celtics are doing all they can, but they’re not making much of a dent in OKC’s lead. Green has bounced back from his banged head and from his poor start against his friend Kevin Durant to put together a decent game for himself. He has 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting.
The Thunder are just too good, and it’s not just Durant. Jeremy Lamb has gotten in on the action, becoming the fifth OKC player in double figures with 11 points.
End of third quarter, Thunder 92-78: Unless the Celtics get a lot closer, Jeff Green might be done for the night. His head snapped back when he ran into Steven Adams’ chest on an attempted spin move and stayed down for several minutes before walking off the court on his own power.
It was a rough time for Green to leave, because he was finally finding his stride. He hit all five shots he took in the third to score 12 of his team-high 17 points.
The Celtics rallied nicely without him, cutting a 21-point OKC advantage to 14 heading into the fourth. But right now this is the Reggie Jackson show. OKC’s de facto point guard is having his way with Boston’s guards and has a career-high 27 points.
Third quarter, 2:35, Thunder 89-68: There wasn’t much spring in the Celtics’ step as they walked off the court for the last timeout. Being outscored 23-12 in the first 10 minutes of a quarter will do that.
Kris Humphries is still having a solid game, but it doesn’t matter the way Reggie Jackson and the Thunder are balling. Jackson has a game-high 24 points and has hardly missed. He’s not just making it look easy — it is easy for him.
The BC alum is 8-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Third quarter, 5:17, Thunder 83-62: Later, Celtics.
Kevin Durant and the Thunder are just having fun now. The timeout coach Scott Brooks called when the Celtics closed the gap to 11 points must have worked, because OKC is off and running now. Durant showed that by dropping a bounce pass between his legs to a cutting Kendrick Perkins for a layup.
This is where the Thunder are at right now: Durant has 21 points and doesn’t even need to try to score anymore — and there’s almost a quarter and a half left.
Third quarter, 8:43, Thunder 73-62: Kevin Durant and the Thunder opened the second half on a roll, scoring the first six points to threaten to blow the Celtics out of the gym. But Jeff Green and the Celtics have regrouped nicely. After falling behind by 16 points, the Celtics have answered with a run of their own, which Green finishes with a swooping layup to pull Boston back within 11.
Halftime, Thunder 66-56: For a while, the Celtics were right there. They were 9-for-13 on 3-pointers and had 15 assists on 20 first-half field goals, and were within two points with three minutes to go in the second quarter.
Then they forgot how to play basketball.
The Thunder finished the first half on a 15-7 run, spearheaded by a pair of open-floor buckets by Kevin Durant. The league’s leading scorer has 17 points, more than half of it at the foul line, where he’s 9-for-10. Reggie Jackson leads everybody with 19 points. Needless to say, this isn’t the best game for Jeff Green or Avery Bradley.
Jordan Crawford leads the Celtics with 15 points. But Boston’s starting frontcourt of Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green is shooting 4-for-17 with four fouls and three turnovers.
Second quarter, 2:49, Thunder 53-49: Avery Bradley seems to think he can pressure Reggie Jackson into making mistakes. Bradley must be watching old game film, because Jackson isn’t the uncertain wallflower anymore.
Jackson is breezing right by Bradley’s attack-dog defense, piling up 16 points with relative ease. The Celtics would really be better off if Bradley would just play containment and keep Jackson from slicing into the paint at will. Maybe Bradley and the Celtics will make that adjustment at halftime, or maybe Jackson will be in for a career night.
Second quarter, 4:54, Thunder 48-44: With Russell Westbrook out, the Celtics’ bench isn’t as outmatched as it would be, no matter how well Reggie Jackson is playing. Jackson goes to the hoop for his fifth basket in six attempts and now has 13 points, but he’s not the shot-creator Westbrook is and has just one assist so far.
On the Celtics’ side, meanwhile, Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford are both in double figures in scoring. They have 22 points combined on 9-for-15 shooting, with three assists and no turnovers. They’re keeping the Celtics close while Jeff Green, who is just 2-for-6 from the floor, struggles against Kevin Durant.
Second quarter, 8:55, Thunder 40-36: There it is, 33 games into the season, Keith Bogans’ first basket as a Celtic.
No, really. The little used guard/forward nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give him his first field goal as a member of the Celtics. The 10-year NBA veteran had taken two shots, both threes, and missed them both prior to this game.
Welcome to the show, Mr. Bogans. Make yourself comfortable.
If Bogans needs any tips of staying ready to play, he can talk to Kris Humphries. His former Nets teammate has played extremely well every since getting his own opportunity due to Kelly Olynyk’s sprained ankle. He’s given the Celtics 11 solid minutes already tonight with eight points, two boards and a blocked shot.
End of first quarter, Thunder 34-26: The absence of Courtney Lee opened up temporary playing time for Keith Bogans, who has been anchored to the end of the bench for the entire season. It wasn’t anything special — he played less than a minute at the end of the first quarter — but he’s in line to get more minutes than he has in weeks.
While Reggie Jackson has been very good, Kevin Durant is still special. The league’s best player this side of LeBron James hasn’t made a shot but he’s gone to the foul line three times and has five points, all off free throws. He’s a model of efficiency opposite Jordan Crawford, who has eight points, two assists and no turnovers.
First quarter, 6:59, Thunder 17-9: Reggie Jackson is no Russell Westbrook, but he’s carving up the Celtics about as well as Westbrook might be if he were healthy.
Jackson has hit his first four shots and is outscoring the Celtics 11-9. He’s doing it against Avery Bradley, too, which makes it even more impressive.
The Celtics already have three turnovers and Jared Sullinger is having problems with Serge Ibaka’s defense. Once again, a long defender is making life tough for Sully. This is a movie we’ve seen before.
6:47 p.m.: With all the focus on the impending Courtney Lee deal, which you can read more about here, it looks like I forgot to bring you the starting lineups.
My apologies. Here you go:
5:39 p.m.: While the coaches and players prepared for a game, the Celtics’ front office has been wheeling and dealing.
Guard Courtney Lee is close to being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for combo guard Jerryd Bayless, according to multiple reports. The trade reportedly will not be consummated until Monday, but Lee was made unavailable for tonight’s game, CSNNE reports.
Celtics about to trade Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless. Lee has 2 yrs left after this. Bayless is a FA this summer.—
Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) January 05, 2014
Source says Courtney Lee will not play for Celtics tonight. Deal with Memphis close to being done. #CelticsTalk—
Kyle Draper (@KyleDraperTV) January 05, 2014
Trade call on Boston's looming acquisition of Jerryd Bayless for Courtney Lee, I'm told, is being scheduled for Monday. Deal is happening—
Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 05, 2014
Lee has been one of Boston’s most efficient players this season, averaging 7.4 points and shooting 44 percent on 3-pointers despite playing less than 17 minutes per game. He is signed through 2016, however, at more than $5 million per season.
8 a.m. ET: There are unfavorable matchups and then there is the contest the Celtics have upcoming on Sunday.
The Celtics, who have lost six of their last seven games, head to the Sooner State to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant and OKC are reeling from the loss of Russell Westbrook, having lost consecutive games for just the second time all season. The Thunder (25-7) are still in second place in the formidable Western Conference, though, and remain several steps above the Celtics (13-20) on paper.
Jared Sullinger was slated to travel with the team and has insisted he will not miss any games due to his bruised hand, but his recent struggles may require Celtics coach Brad Stevens to rethink that. This game opens a grueling five-game road trip that will take the Celtics through the home cities of four of the NBA’s best teams.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. ET.