Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 100, Pacers 107
Celtics 100, Pacers 107
Tonight’s Key Moment was not one of the tangible sense. It wasn’t a dunk or a pass or a steal or a jump shot. Instead, it was when the Celtics ran out of gas.
Playing in the second night of a back-to-back, a situation the Celtics have struggled mightily in for the majority of the season, the C’s were hit by a wall of fatigue about midway through the fourth quarter. Is it an excuse? Not at all. Is it the truth? Absolutely.
The signs were plentiful that Boston had run out of gas, and they began when Ray Allen, who had missed only one free throw since the All-Star break, came up short on his second attempt with 5:47 remaining in the game. That miss left the C’s in a tie, at 94-94, rather than with a one-point lead.
Shortly thereafter, Paul Pierce had his shot blocked right under the basket as he attempted a layup while barely jumping off of the ground. Indiana’s 7-foot-2 center, Roy Hibbert, swatted the shot away with ease and Brandon Rush went on to make a baseline jumper for the Pacers at the other end to put them ahead by four.
On Boston’s next possession, Kevin Garnett tossed a pass to Rajon Rondo that was just off the mark, but it looked as if Rondo was going to be able to reel it in. While he casually approached the ball with his left hand and looked over his right shoulder - something Rondo almost never does - Darren Collison snuck behind him to tap the ball away and take it to the other end of the floor for a wide open, fast break slam dunk. That bucket put Indiana ahead by six, and put the C’s on the defense.
The Celtics called timeout and got a good look on the next possession, but Garnett was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. He, himself, had only missed two free throws since the All-Star break, but his legs weren’t underneath him for these attempts. When both of his shots missed, you could tell that the Celtics were deflated.
Indiana went on to score on a putback layup by Hibbert at the other end – the missed box out being another sign of Boston’s fatigue – that put the Pacers ahead 102-94 with 3:52 remaining in the game. The contest certainly wasn’t over at that point, but it was given away by the Celts down the stretch while they struggled to find any extra fuel in the final minutes.
Glen Davis also missed a free throw, Ray Allen missed a 3-pointer that barely grazed the front of the rim, and Garnett and Allen committed back-to-back turnovers on passes that they surely wouldn’t have attempted in a rested state. The C’s went on to miss four of their final five shots in the final 67 seconds of the game - a game in which they shot 54.8 percent overall - and with that they were dealt yet another loss to a sub-.500 basketball team.
No one wants to use fatigue as an excuse, and the Celtics surely won’t do so when they speak to the media tonight and at Wednesday’s practice. Tonight, however, it’s not an excuse. It’s a fact.
Key Box Score Line
Rajon Rondo missed last night’s game with a sore right pinkie and he was scheduled to miss tonight’s game, too. As little as 15 minutes before tip-off, the media learned that Rondo would, in fact, be available for tonight’s game, and boy did he play well.
Boston’s point guard showed no signs of limitation tonight and he was actually as aggressive offensively as we have seen him in months. He tied for the team high in shot attempts with 13 and he canned nine of them en route to his 22 points. That’s the highest point total he has scored since way back on Feb. 6 against Orlando, when he scored 26.
But it wasn’t just about the scoring. He woke Boston’s offense up with his energy and he also wound up dishing out eight assists, which were double that of any Indiana player. Rondo made sound decisions all night long, finishing with only one turnover, and he also chipped in four rebounds.
The Celtics may have lost this game, but they saw their true point guard return to form tonight. The aggressive Rondo has been missing for some time, and it was great to see him resurface against the Pacers.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston scored a combined 31 points in the second and fourth quarter, which is less than it scored in the first (33) and third (36) quarters individually.
- Three Celtics, Paul Pierce (23), Rajon Rondo (22) and Glen Davis (20), finished with at least 20 points.
- The teams shot nearly identical percentages, with Boston making 54.8 percent of its shots and Indiana making 54.5 percent of its shots.
- Kevin Garnett and Nenad Krstic, both saddled by foul trouble, each finished the night shooting just 2-of-4 from the field.
- Roy Hibbert scored a game-high 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting.
- Jeff Foster came off the bench to be the only Pacer player to grab more than four rebounds. He finished with seven.
- Five Pacers finished with exactly four rebounds.
- The Celtics grabbed only 29 rebounds in the game.
- Boston scored 100 points for the first time since March 9.
- Rondo dished out a game-high eight assists, and Ray Allen chipped in five dimes of his own.
- Davis used a 7-of-11 shooting performance to score his 20 points and he also grabbed five rebounds.
- Garnett and Pierce tied for the team-high in rebounding with six boards apiece.
- All of Indiana's starters finished in the negative of the plus/minus category, while every reserve finished with at least a plus-13 in that category.
- Seven players accounted for the game's seven blocks.
- Boston took 36 free throws to Indiana's 22.
- Darren Collison shot 8-of-9 from the field to score his 17 points.
- Six of Jeff Green's eight points came from the free-throw line.
- Allen, Garnett and Krstic, three of Boston's five starters, combined to attempt just 16 shots.
- Outside of Davis, the rest of Boston's bench accounted for only 11 points.
- Both teams scored 42 points in the paint.
- Both teams committed 15 total turnovers.
Quote of the Night
Kevin Garnett on the Celtics' recent struggles: "It's frustrating. We've put ourselves here, we've got to take ourselves out of it."