Celtics Live Blog: C’s Offense Falls Flat in Ugly 79-71 Loss to Suns at Garden


Jan 20, 2012

Celtics Live Blog: C's Offense Falls Flat in Ugly 79-71 Loss to Suns at GardenFourth Quarter, 2:30 Suns 71-63: All in all, it was a disappointing showing for the Celtics on Friday night, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Boston started to make things interesting in the third, but the Suns came out hot in the fourth to extend their lead, and the C's did very little to help themselves back into the game. 

To put things into perspective, the Celtics scored only 16 points in the fourth quarter, and that wasn't even their worst offensive quarter of the evening. They also turned the ball over six times in the fourth quarter, mucking up multiple chances to get back into it.

If there's a silver lining at all, it's that Saturday is an off-day, with a date with the lowly Washington Wizards on Sunday.

Fourth Quarter, 2:30 Suns 71-63: Offensively, the Celtics have been tough to watch in this one. They are just turning the ball over way too much, and that's something that's only gotten worse in the fourth quarter.

They're finding every way to turn it over, too — errant passes, air balls and in the last few possessions, a couple of offensive fouls.

They have just eight points in the fourth quarter. After this showing, it will be tough to every underestimate Rajon Rondo's offensive value to this team. 

Fourth Quarter, 6:00 Suns 67-59: The Suns opened their lead to nine to start the fourth until an Avery Bradley jumper got the Celtics to within seven.

One of the most alarming numbers of the evening thus far has been the turnovers. The C's have turned it over 16 times after Brandon Bass steps on the baseline to kill a possession.

That number is even more frustrating for the Celtics when you consider that at least a few of them have come after any number of 21 Suns turnovers.

End of Third, Suns 60-55 The third quarter was a weird one to say the least.

The Celtics actually stormed back to take a lead, but some late defensive lapses means that they'll go to the fourth trailing.

Boston had a few real strong offensive trips midway through the quarter, but they got away from that later in the quarter, as the ball movement slowed and quite simply, they missed some wide-open shots.

E'Twaun Moore was a second-round pick, so expectations aren't real high for him this season. And Keyon Dooling is out, so Moore is probably being called on to play more minutes than he's capable of handling. But this game will not go on his highlight reel. He's 1-for-6 from the floor with a pair of turnovers, and he missed a wide-open 3 that would have been pretty big.

Third Quarter, 3:00, Celtics 53-52: The C's went with a small lineup midway through third quarter, and it turned out to be a pretty good decision by Doc Rivers.

Avery Bradley's stat line may not be the greatest at the end of the night, but it won't represent the type of energy he's brought, especially in the second half.

Also, Mickael Pietrus came off the bench and erased the memory of a forgettable first half by knocking down a 3-pointer that gave Boston its first lead since it was 2-0.

Third Quarter, 7:47 Suns 48-45:The Celtics are starting to share the ball and move it around a little more and as a result, they're right back in this game.

The ball — and perhaps more importantly — the players are moving much quicker and crisper on offense for Boston. 

Because of that, they're within three and have the Suns on their heels a bit. 

Halftime, Suns 46-35: The C's are going to head to the locker room down 11. In reality, it could have been even worse.

That was a pretty ugly offering from the Celtics in the first two quarters, and they've certainly got their work cut out for them.

The offense is clearly missing a beat or two without Rajon Rondo, as there isn't a ton of ball movement, and the even less rhythm. 

Give the Suns credit, though. The Celtics aren't playing very well, but the Suns are making life difficult for Boston. 

Second Quarter, 2:58, Suns 41-34: The Celtics are hanging around, but they've yet to go on any sort of sustained run.

Interesting to note: If you put any stock into the plus/minus rating in basketball, Kevin Garnett is a minus-11 thus far. It's tough to win when you get that kind of number from one of your best defenders. 

Second Quarter, 6:00, Suns 35-25: Steve Nash just checked back in for the Suns. The run that Phoenix went on to push the lead to 10 was done primarily without him. That can't be good for the Celtics.

The real story so far has been the offensive ineptitude without Rajon Rondo. Avery Bradley isn't exactly known for offense, and E'Twaun Moore's decision-making has been questionable at best thus far. 

Second Quarter, 8:05, Suns 32-23: The Celtics used a 7-0 run to get within three, but all of a sudden, that seems like an hour ago.

The Suns just rattled off a 12-3 run to push the lead back nine forcing Doc Rivers to take a timeout and reassess some things.

In the last couple of minutes, the Boston offense has looked stagnant and the defense has looked porous. That's a fancy way of representing a recipe for basketball disaster.

End of First, Suns 20-15: If there were no such thing as a Marcin Gortat, the Celtics would be feeling pretty good about things through one quarter.

Unfortunately for them Marcin Gortat exsists, and he had himself a first quarter.

Gortat played all 12 minutes and poured in 14 points to go with four rebounds. That's good.

Greg Stiemsma actually gave the Celts some energy off the bench and helped clogged up the middle some, as Boston got back into it late in the quarter.

And on the point guard side of things, Avery Bradley did a nice job on Steve Nash. Then, E'Twaun Moore entered the game. He's having no real problems defensively, but on the offensive side, not so much. He had two possessions in the first — he turned the ball over twice. That's not good.

First Quarter, 6:00, Suns 14-8: Sticking with the blast from the past theme, Paul Pierce has three dunks in the game's first six minutes. Might as well call it the FleetCenter for the rest of the night.

Alas, Marcin Gortat is continuing his personal mission to destroy the Celtics, and Phoenix still leads in the early going.

First Quarter, 9:08, Suns 6-2: Steve Nash and Grant Hill combine for six early points to open things up. No, it is not 1999.

7 p.m.: We're now just about 30 minutes from tip.

The obvious story line heading into this matchup is the absence of Rajon Rondo for the Celtics.

It's obviously a big loss any time you lose your most important player, a title which let's face it — Rondo has earned.

His absence may be felt even more against a team like the Suns, thanks to the presence of Steve Nash on the other side.

However, it will be interesting to watch what second-year point guard Avery Bradley will be able to do against Nash. While Bradley's offense will never be confused for Rondo, his defense is arguably his greatest trait. He's young, and he's got a ton of energy. It will be interesting to see if he tries to frustrate Nash with energy and pesky play. 

Of course, Nash is a veteran and a future Hall of Famer. He knows all the tricks in the book. So there's always the chance he drops 30 points and 15 assists on C's.

6:20 p.m.: It won't be Rajon Rondo chasing Steve Nash around the TD Garden floor on Friday night.

Play-by-play radio guy Sean Grande says Rondo is out for the matchup against the 5-9 Suns, as his right wrist injury will keep him out for at least a game.

That means Avery Bradley will likely shift to the starting lineup. He'll look to slow Nash who is having another impressive season. The 16-year veteran enters Friday's tilt averaging 15 points and 10 assists a game.

5 p.m.: Maybe Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will play Friday against the Suns after all.

While Doc Rivers said Thursday that Rondo was doubtful for Friday night after injuring his right wrist on Wednesday (get all of that?), MRI results came back positive, and there's a chance Rondo plays Friday night.

"It gets better every day," Rondo told reporters after shootaround. "Hopefully in a couple hours, it'll be better than this."

8 a.m.: The Celtics will welcome the Phoenix Suns to TD Garden on Friday night, and in the process, they'll renew something of a budding rivalry.

It all goes back to last season when the two teams met in the desert on Jan. 28. Celtics forward Kevin Garnett delivered a shot to the groin of Suns forward Channing Frye late in a blowout Phoenix win. The play invoked some trash talk and some pushing and shoving, as well as some strong words from Suns head coach Alvin Gentry in the game's aftermath.

"I used to be a big fan of [Garnett]," Gentry told a Phoenix radio station a few days later. "Some of the antics he pulled lately, you don't need to do that as a star player. I've never seen Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade do that."

The two teams met in a rematch on March 2 in Boston, and Garnett was clearly inspired. All he did was shoot 12-of-14 from the floor on his way to scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 115-103 win.

Things may be a little more difficult for the C's on Friday night, however. While they put an end to a five-game losing streak on Wednesday with a win over Toronto, the Celtics did lose point guard Rajon Rondo. A wrist injury kept Rondo from practice on Thursday, and Rivers said that he doubts the point guard will play on Friday against the Suns.

That means that Rivers will likely turn to second-year point guard Avery Bradley to try to slow down future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash.

Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Garden.

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