Wednesday, March 31, 2010
First impressions: Thunder 109, Celtics 104
By Chris Forsberg
Elsa/Getty ImagesBOSTON -- Instant reaction after the Oklahoma City Thunder posted a 109-104 triumph over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the TD Garden:
Kevin Durant and the upstart Thunder made the big plays late.
How the game was won: Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 37 points on 10-of-20 shooting, while Russell Westbrook added 21 points and 10 assists for the Thunder. Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace paced six Boston players in double figures with 18 points apiece, while Rajon Rondo added 16 points and 11 assists.
Turning point: Jeff Green -- Boston's first-round pick (5th overall) in the 2007 draft who was traded to Seattle in exchange for Ray Allen -- drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes, both times turning Oklahoma City's one-point lead into a two-possession game.
Stat of the game: The Celtics shot 71.1 percent (27 of 38 overall) in the first half ... and led by only four at the intermission. Boston scored the final seven points of the second quarter while opening its biggest lead to that point as the Thunder shot 56.8 percent (21 of 37) before the break.
Unsung hero: Wallace committed two turnovers and two fouls in five scoreless minutes to start the game and heard boos a couple times, but rebounded to scored 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting over 26 minutes off the bench.
What it means: The Celtics continue to falter against top competition at home. Particularly concerning is the fact that, in a game with a playoff atmosphere, the team again let the game slip away late and it was the youthful Thunder that made the plays -- on the road -- when they mattered most. Coupled with Atlanta's thrashing of the Lakers, the Celtics slipped a game back of the Hawks in the race for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.