After one quarter, the San Antonio Spurs' offense looked very good. After two quarters, it looked spectacular. After three quarters, everyone realized there were two teams on the floor. After four quarters, everyone realized just how dead even these two teams are, when the Spurs survived with a 87-86 victory.
The Celtics win streak stopped at five when Paul Pierce's last second jumper went wide right.
Boston trailed 59-48 at halftime. The Spurs' pace was too much for them in the first half, as San Antonio posted 32 points in quarter two.
It was the Spurs' bench that gave Boston trouble in the early going. On Sunday, Miami's reserves mustered only 28 points for the game. San Antonio's poured in 31 in the first half and 44 in the game.
Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass had trouble hitting jump shots throughout the night, eliminating a major part of the Celtics' offense. Garnett finished with 16 points but took 19 shots to get there. Bass was held to just nine points.
The third quarter was Boston's opportunity to right the ship. With another big game, Rajon Rondo hit a huge three at the 5:30 mark of the third to cut deficit to eight. Using a smaller lineup with both Garnett and Greg Stiemsma on the bench and Pierce and Bass at the 4-5, Boston was able to do some damage on both the offensive and defensive ends to work their way back into the game. At the final buzzer of the third quarter, Boston had held the Spurs to just nine points and trailed by only four.
A Rondo steal and assist under the Spurs basket, followed by a Garnett finger roll put the Celtics down one with under seven minutes to go, 77-76. Then a Pierce three tied things up at 79 with four minutes to go. On the next offensive possession, the captain drove and dumped a pass off to a cutting Avery Bradley for the Celtics first lead since early in the second quarter.
Once again when the Celtics needed a late stop, their rebounding ineptitude came back to haunt them as the Spurs had what amounted to three possessions on their one trip with under 1:30 to go. Matt Bonner finally hit a jumper putting Boston down four, 87-83.
Ray Allen returned and started for the Celtics but was relatively quiet as he shook off the rust of a couple weeks on the bench. However just when the Celtics needed him most, old faithful stroked a corner three to get his team back to within one.
Unfortunately, San Antonio's defense stayed with Pierce on the final possession and the captain's last second jumper clanged off the rim leaving the final score 87-86.
Pierce finished with a double-double, registering 15 points and ten boards. Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 19 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Rondo extended his assist streak to 14 straight games with 10+, he finished with 11 to go along with 17 points and four steals. Daniel Green led the Spurs with 14 points, while Tim Duncan posted a 10 and 16.
The Celtics fell to 30-23, but didn't lose any ground in the division as Philadelphia got pasted by Toronto, 99-78. Boston now travels to Chicago for a matchup with the Bulls tomorrow night.Walsh 4/04/2012 10:02:00 PM Tweet Edit