Celtics Live Blog: C’s Lose a Close One to Thunder


Mar 31, 2010

Celtics Live Blog: C's Lose a Close One to Thunder Final: Thunder 109, Celtics 104. That’s that — the Celtics lose a heartbreaker at the Garden, failing to execute in the final two minutes and falling victim to a huge night from Kevin Durant and a pair of clutch 3s late from Jeff Green.

The Celtics have now lost back-to-back games on their home floor, and the Thunder walk away with their fourth win in five games. It’s a big victory for an OKC team vying for playoff position in the competitive Western Conference.

Fourth quarter, 6.9 seconds, Thunder 109-104: Ray Allen misses a three, and the fans at the TD Garden file to the exits. The Celtics are forced to foul Russell Westbrook, who gets to the line and makes one of two. That might be enough to do the Celtics in.

Fourth quarter, 17.9 seconds, Thunder 108-104: A crucial Rasheed miss from long range puts the Celtics in a bad spot. The C’s get a big stop when Russell Westbrook misses a long jumper, but they’re down four and the shot clock is dead. They’ve got to get a bucket and a stop, and fast. No room for error now.

Fourth quarter, 1:22, Thunder 108-104: And another 3 from Green. Once again, the C’s find their backs up against the wall. They’ve got some work to do.

Fourth quarter, 1:55, Thunder 105-101: An absolutely huge 3 from Jeff Green. That doesn’t put the Celtics in desperation mode yet, but it’s not good news. The C’s will need mistake-free basketball in these final two minutes.

Fourth quarter, 2:40, Celtics 101-100: After a questionable foul call on Paul Pierce, who attempts to block a running jumper from (who else but …) Kevin Durant, the Thunder will have a chance to reclaim the lead with two free throws after this timeout. Pierce thought he had all ball, and replays have shown that he was probably right. Durant’s already good enough without getting the calls, but a little help from the zebras never hurts.

Fourth quarter, 4:21, Celtics 99-98: Rasheed Wallace has missed a lot of 3s this season, but every time he hits a big one like that, all is forgiven. The Celtics are back in the lead thanks to a perfect jumper from Sheed at the top of the key — 18 points now for the big man off the Celtics bench.

Fourth quarter, 6:16, Celtics 96-94: Another mid-range jumper from KG; another assist from Rondo. Those two have been in sync like none other in the second half. Ten assists in the game now for Rondo, who has shown considerable poise in keeping the Celtics alive in this basketball game. If the C’s can step up defensively and get a stop or two against Durant, a win is within reach. That’s a tall order, though.

Fourth quarter, 7:48, 92-92: Surprise, surprise — it’s Kevin Durant who’s keeping the Thunder in this game. Oklahoma City gets an electrifying dunk from Durant to pull within two at 92-90, and after Rasheed Wallace misses a pair of free throws on the following Boston possession, KD hits a jumper to tie the ballgame. He now has 33 points for the Thunder tonight, and he dropped 36 on the Celtics back in OKC earlier this season. He’s got the C’s number.

Fourth quarter, 10:02, Celtics 90-86: The Celtics go up four on a long two from Michael Finley. The C’s bench is fired up, and the Thunder are starting to look worried. Scott Brooks needs a timeout to sort things out — he’s got to make sure his young players don’t panic in the face of a fourth-quarter charge from the Celtics. And for the most part, the C’s have been doing this with their second unit. It’s been mostly Finley and Glen Davis carrying the offense for Boston, with Doc Rivers resting the starters for crunch time later.

End of third quarter, 83-83: Both sides are giving everything they’ve got defensively, killing themselves on every play to earn stops. But it’s the Thunder, the younger and more energetic team, that are better equipped to make the hustle plays here in this second half. The main reason the Celtics are still in this game is Rajon Rondo, who drives the lane for a huge layup at the third-quarter buzzer, knotting the score at 83. Behind 16 points from Rondo, the C’s are staying alive despite a slight drop-off in their energy level since halftime. The starters will need to come back energized and ready to play a huge fourth quarter. Expect this one to go right down to the wire.

Third quarter, 3:22, Celtics 75-71: The Thunder’s big man tandem of Nenad Krstic and Serge Ibaka have become visibly frustrated late in the third quarter, as they’ve gotten lazy defensively on a couple of possessions and allowed Rajon Rondo to drive the lane a couple of times for uncontested layups. Rondo now has 12 points, nine assists, four steals and three rebounds, a quietly brilliant night for the Boston point guard. The C’s maintain a slight lead.

Third quarter, 5:51, Celtics 71-69: OKC isn’t going away easily. The Thunder are scratching away at every opportunity to pry a loose ball away from the Celtics, using their energy and their quickness to go for steals and keep the Celtics on their toes. They’re not just pesky — they’re effective. This is a more aggressive Thunder defense than we saw in the first half, and it could give the older, slower Celtics fits if they can’t adapt. It’s a two-point Boston lead for now, but the C’s will have to work hard to keep it.

Third quarter, 9:07, Celtics 67-61: When the Celtics starters are executing well and hitting their shots, this team is mighty tough to beat. And that’s the case right now, with KG knocking down jumpers from mid-range and Ray chipping in, too. The Celtics have found a groove, and they’re not getting out of it anytime soon. They want to win this game.

Halftime, Celtics 61-57: Maybe the Celtics were just toying with the Thunder for most of this first half. They’ve pulled back into the lead in these final five minutes and made it look easy, just executing perfectly on offense and bearing down defensively against Durant and Westbrook. It’s been a strong first half for the Celtics’ old guard, with 14 points from Pierce and 10 from KG before the break. Considering the Celtics have trailed by six or seven points for much of this half, they should be ecstatic with a four-point lead at halftime. You’ve seen a very strong push from the men in green. 

Second quarter, 3:24, Celtics 50-49: The Celtics’ veterans keep them in the game. First Pierce hits a 3, launching the TD Garden crowd into hysterics; KG follows it up with a long two from the corner and Ray Allen banks in a mid-range shot on the following possession. It’s a 9-2 run for Boston to pull back in front, and you can tell the savvy Celtics aren’t fazed by a wee little first-half deficit. They’ve been there before, which is more than most of these OKC kids can say.

Second quarter, 6:20, Thunder 41-37: Once Nate Robinson starts shooting, it’s pretty hard to make him stop. That’s pretty much just the way he’s wired. Nate tosses up three long jumpers in the span of about 45 seconds, and the only one that falls is a 16-footer to pull the Celtics within a point at 38-37. A Jeff Green 3 opens the lead up again, and the Celtics are back to a four-point deficit. They’ll need some better ball movement to create smart shots and keep them in this game.

Second quarter, 9:10, Thunder 34-31: Game by game, minute by minute, you’re starting to see Rasheed Wallace improve as a low-post scorer. A month ago, he was content to stay between the 3-point lines — that’s changing, as he’s found both his mid-range jumper and his back-to-the-basket game with time. A nice bank shot off the backboard puts the Celtics back to within three. You can feel momentum starting to shift their way here in the second quarter.

End of first quarter, Thunder 30-23: An atrocious first quarter for Rajon Rondo defensively, as he’s been unable to disrupt Russell Westbrook in the slightest. But offensively, he’s a big reason the Celtics are still in this game. He’s had a hand in every basket these last three minutes, including picking off a Durant pass and taking it coast to coast for a layup himself. But thanks to 11 points from Westbrook and nine now from Durant, this game is all OKC. The Celtics need better focus on both ends of the floor.

First quarter, 3:08, Thunder 23-17: Not a good stretch for the Celtics, who can’t seem to hit a jump shot and also can’t seem to stop Russell Westbrook to save their lives. Westbrook is all over the place, driving the lane to score and knocking down jumpers from mid-range. He’s now 5-of-5 from the floor, giving OKC 11 points and three assists. Durant has started to come to life a little as well, with six points now in the first quarter.

First quarter, 6:05, Celtics 14-13: Fast fact: Kevin Durant leads the NBA in free throws made this season. He’s drained 654, far and away tops in the league. And he gets two more here to put the Thunder into the lead at 11-10, but the Celtics come back quickly with a layup from Kendrick Perkins and a mid-range jumper from Ray Allen to pull back ahead. This one’s been neck-and-neck so far, but we’ve still yet to see Durant really turn it on. The OKC superstar is 0-for-1 from the floor with just the two points.

First quarter, 9:05, Celtics 8-5: So far, we’re seeing the Celtics take control of this game with their inside scoring, while the Thunder have been forced to rely on the jump shooting of Russell Westbrook. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have all gotten inside for layups early, whereas the Thunder have yet to get Kevin Durant active in this one. It’s surprising, too, because the quick Rondo would seem like a tough matchup for Westbrook, whereas Durant should have a field day with the Celtics (as he did last time out).

8 a.m.: The Celtics spent all of March getting healthy and staying healthy. The month is ending, though, and so is Boston’s good fortune. This is no April Fools’ joke — the Celtics are banged up again.

Kendrick Perkins has battled knee tendinitis. Nate Robinson returned only recently from a sprained ankle. And the captain, Paul Pierce, has fought through two shoulder stingers in three days.

Doesn’t matter. The Celtics have to go out there and compete anyway.

The last day of March brings Boston’s last meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a young, hungry team looking to land a high playoff seed and make some noise in the postseason. Pierce may be ready to take the floor again, but he’s drawn a tough matchup in 21-year-old wunderkind and MVP candidate Kevin Durant. The former Texas Longhorn torched the Celtics last time out — the C’s will look to slow him down this time.

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