Boston Celtics: 2014Game34
Rapid reaction after the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Boston Celtics 119-96 Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Reggie Jackson had a career-high 27 points and Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, as the host Thunder handed the Celtics their fourth straight loss. Jeff Green and Avery Bradley each finished with a team-high 19 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Thunder's superior offensive firepower. Boston played without Courtney Lee, who is expected to be dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and did not dress. Even without Lee, the Celtics had a nice bounce-back game on the offensive end, hitting 11-of-23 attempts from 3-point range, though they couldn’t keep up with an explosive Thunder offense that scored efficiently (51.8 percent from the field) all night long. The Celtics now have dropped seven of their last eight games.
The Celtics remained within striking distance for most of the first half, but things took a turn for the worse after intermission. A 10-0 run by Oklahoma City midway through the third quarter opened up a 21-point lead for the hosts. The Celtics kept fighting but couldn't get closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
NO LEE MEANS MINUTES FOR BOGANS
Lee's absence paved the way for some minutes for reserve guard Keith Bogans, who saw his first action since Nov. 30 against Milwaukee. He also made his first field goal of the season, a 3-pointer at the top of the key off a dish from Phil Pressey. Bogans finished with three points, two assists and a rebound in a season-high 14 minutes.
JACKSON’S CAREER NIGHT A BITTERSWEET REMINDER
Jackson had a career night while filling in as starting point guard for an injured Russell Westbrook. The 23-year-old hit 9-of-12 field goal attempts, including all three attempts from 3-point range, to lead all scorers with 27 points. Boston’s front office was a big fan of Jackson, the former Boston College star, before the 2011 NBA draft. Unfortunately for the Celtics, Thunder GM Sam Presti selected Jackson with the 24th pick in the draft, one slot before Boston's turn. That night, the Celtics ended up trading for JaJuan Johnson, who is out of the league.
Green left the game toward the end of the third quarter after being shaken up in a collision with Nick Collison. After lying on the floor for a few minutes, Green walked off under his own power. He returned in the fourth quarter. ... The Thunder's Kendrick Perkins had a nice performance with a season-high 12 points against his former team's undersized frontline. ... Jared Sullinger had another rough shooting night, going 3-of-11 from the field before fouling out in 19 minutes. ... Vitor Faverani saw seven minutes of action, all coming in garbage time during the fourth quarter.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (13-21) opened their five-game Western Conference road trip with an expected loss and are now 0-3 in 2014. After a day off Monday, the Celtics will need to regroup quickly as they face two sets of back-to-back games over the final five days of the week. With visits to Los Angeles (Clippers), Golden State and Portland on the docket, it will be challenging for the Celtics to end their three-game losing streak anytime soon.
- THUNDER AT A GLANCE: The Thunder rank fifth in the league in offensive rating (106.5) and second in defensive rating (97.7). They are sixth in defensive rebound rate (76.1 percent) and first in total rebound percentage (53 percent). About the only area of weakness is turnovers as the team ranks 22nd in turnover percentage, hindered in part by the absence of Russell Westbrook. Of course, the Celtics rank 27th in the league in turnover rate, so it's not much of an advantage if Boston can't take care of the basketball itself.
- GREEN BACK IN OKC: Jeff Green, Boston's leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, is back in Oklahoma City to face the organization that drafted him 5th overall in the 2007 draft and groomed him over his first 3+ seasons in the league. Green finished 2-of-11 shooting with only eight points in his only other visit to OKC last year. Over Boston's last five games, Green is averaging only 13 points on 37.7 percent shooting over 28.8 minutes per game and is minus-23 in that span.
- NUMBER THAT JUMPS OUT: The Celtics rank 30th in the league in offensive rating over their last five games, which explains how they've lost four of five (despite owning the 11th best defensive rating in the league in that same span). The Thunder lost two of their last three and ball-handling is the only glaring area of weakness (high turnover percentage and low assist-to-turnover rate). Again, it's on the Celtics to harass Reggie Jackson and disrupt the Thunder offense.
- WHAT ELSE?: Can Jared Sullinger find his shooting touch despite his recent woes? He missed 14 shots in Friday's loss to New Orleans and is shooting a mere 27.6 percent over his last five games overall. ... Kelly Olynyk is a team-best plus-11 over the last five games. Only Phil Pressey (+2) and Kris Humphries (+1) are also in the positive. ... The Celtics are opening a daunting five-game road trip and have lost all four games they've played on the road against the West this season.
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