The Boston Celtics gave a spirited Portland, Maine, crowd something we haven’t seen all preseason Wednesday night: a competitive game.
After each of their first four contests were decided by double-digits (two wins, two losses), the Celtics gave the Toronto Raptors all they could handle before a Lou Williams 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining gave the defending division champions a 92-89 victory.
Despite the game’s lack of impact on the standings, the loss still was tough for Celtics coach Brad Stevens to swallow.
“I just hate losing,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “Preseason game, regular-season game, whatever. Kudos to (Williams), hats off to him. Move on. Play tomorrow. Try to play better than to be in that situation at the end.”
— Jeff Green, having finally shaken his lingering calf injury, saw his first game action of the preseason. Stevens said he was going to give Green a heavy workload in his first game back, and he did just that. The forward played 31 minutes — and probably would have played more had it not been for Amir Johnson.
Johnson caught Green with a finger to the eye early in the third period, causing the latter some serious discomfort. Green remained down on the court for quite some time and was taken to the locker room before later returning.
Green struggled to find his shooting touch, going just 3-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-5 from deep to finish with nine points. He said after the game that he was “over-anxious” and “dead tired” on the court.
— Tyler Zeller had by far his best game of the preseason, hitting all six of his shots to finish with a season-high 13 points in 16 minutes while seeming to develop some chemistry with point guard Evan Turner. The big man also added four rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a plus-12 rating that ranked second on the team behind Kelly Olynyk — his main competition for playing time at the center position.
“I feel like I’m getting back to what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said after the game, via MassLive.com’s Jay King.
— Marcus Thornton continued to do Marcus Thornton things, racking up a game-high 17 points in 17 minutes off the bench. The guard also found a new way to score in bunches, drawing a technical foul on a made 3-pointer and hitting his free throws to complete the rare five-point play.
Thornton also displayed unusual efficiency, as his 66.7 percent shooting clip (6-of-9) was his highest of the preseason.
— Turner was ejected after receiving consecutive technical fouls late in the third quarter.
— Terrence Ross won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest two seasons ago. He did some more dunking against the Celtics.
Ross finished with 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
— Stevens said the team’s hope is for rookie James Young to return to the lineup in time for Boston’s final preseason game Oct. 22. Young played in the Celtics’ preseason opener but has not seen action since as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
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