Hoping to close the year out on a high note, the C’s instead suffered one of their more baffling loses of the short season. Losing in the last seconds to the New Orleans Hornets by a final score of 83-81, Boston dropped only their 2nd game at home this year, but their 3rd loss in the last 4 games.
This contest was filled with it’s fair share of offensive struggles for the Celtics. The swift ball movement and extra pass mentality instilled in this team was conspicuously absent for the full 48. It was apparent that the team could make due missing one star, but without KG and Rondo to help facilitate the offense they merely looked lost.
Big Baby struggled from the field, starting the contest 1-5 from the floor. Pierce scored merely 2 points in the first frame, after he got in the passing lane for a fast break flush. Nate, per usual, was taking ill advised shots all over the place. At one point throughout the contest Robinson stepped to the line for a technical free throw despite Ray (the obvious 1st option) and Paul (the obvious 2nd) both being on the floor. Pierce walked over to Nate and stood behind him for several seconds, with his body language harboring a slight bit of contempt. The Celtics only scored 19 points in the first quarter, but were still right in the thick of it, only trailing by 4.
The second quarter looked a bit more promising. Starting with a 13-4 run, and assuming a 5 point lead, it looked as if the C’s may have finally found some sort of rhythm. After all, this team is known for sluggish starts in afternoon games. Perhaps that’s just what the hang up was. Marquis Daniels, as always, provided a silent spark to the offense that was more than necessary. With the team out of sorts, Daniels and O’Neal were the only two reliable bench players left. Taking advantage of the lack of depth, New Orleans clawed back, grabbing a bit of momentum before the half.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, that bit of momentum turned into a full tour de force of offense in the 3rd quarter for the Hornets. New Orleans dropped 29 in the quarter, behind 9 points and 4 assists from Chris Paul. During this stretch, the Hornets were able to grab the most commanding lead of the game, closing out the frame up 66-57. It looked like the C’s would need a bit of late game magic if they wanted to pull this one off.
Luckily, the bench answered the call. After quick baskets from O’Neal, Daniels, and Robinson to start the 4th, the C’s were back in it again. The run continued with several baskets from Ray, including two 3′s, that put the Celtics up by a margin of 73-66. The crowd in the Garden was absolutely electric, and after putting together a 16-0 run to start the 4th no one would have guessed that the Celtics could let this one slip away. But that seemed to be the natural ebb and flow of this contest. Despite being a low scoring affair, it was filled with an unusual amount of runs, and on the Celtics part, many early turnovers.
In spite of the run to start the quarter, the Hornets countered with a healthy dose of David West. During the last 5 minutes, West scored 7 crucial points, including a corner jumper that put the Hornets up 82-77. The basket was Big Baby’s second glaring error in consecutive plays, as he first took an ill advised 3 point shot and then lost his man West for the open jumper on the other end. Digging down deep, Boston had their last shot at redemption. The C’s got a short running jumper from Pierce, making the contest a one possession affair again. After an Ariza miss, Ray Allen was fouled and got to the line for 2, narrowing the gap to only 1 point, 82-81. West had his 7th and final point of the quarter with a free throw, but at 83-81, Boston only needed two to tie. After a timeout, and presumably some sort of last second preparation, the C’s fumbled around with the ball, resulting in a Ray Allen 3 point attempt with 5 seconds left. After the vexing shot, the Celtics inexplicably failed to foul, opting instead to let the clock run down to zero’s.
Though the last second shot was difficult to understand, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for this particular contest. Much of what transpired in this game made little sense. From the incident of Nate taking the technical, to the team mounting a 16-0 run only to inexplicably let it slip away. From Big Baby taking a 3 pointer with time left on the shot clock, to his apparent spat with Doc Rivers in the closing minutes. Everything was out of sorts on this particular afternoon, and the best thing the Celtics could do is chalk it up to one major misunderstanding. It’s time to look forward to the new year, which brings 5 games in 7 days, including a showdown with the Spurs and Bulls, both which will be awfully trying for a shorthanded team.
About the Author
Written by Michael Johnson
I am a recent graduate of Endicott College having earned my Bachelors Degree in Communications. I bleed green and will until I die. If you'd like to talk sports I'm available on facebook and my email address is Johnson3448@comcast.net. You can also follow me on twitter @johnsoncookie.