If you’ve watched a lot of professional basketball, you know that the last game of a long road trip is always a mental challenge for a team. Sunday night proved that old NBA maxim. After blowing out the Nets in Brooklyn on Christmas Day, the Celtics were blown out themselves for the third consecutive game on Sunday night, this time falling 118-96 in Sacramento.
Rajon Rondo was back in the lineup for Boston after missing Saturday’s game against Golden State with a bruised hip/thigh, but his presence didn’t make much of an impact. Rondo’s mobility appeared to be greatly limited on both ends, and the Celtics defense struggled to make stops as the Kings scored at will in the paint, finishing with 56 interior points.
When they weren’t scoring in the paint in the early goings, the Kings were raining 3s in the second half. Sacramento drained seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to bury a Boston team that was still within striking distance after three quarters.
The loss gives the Celtics a rough 1-3 record on their holiday trip, and things don’t get any easier when 2013 rolls around, as the C's host Tony Allen and the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
Key Box Score Line
DeMarcus Cousins has been the subject of more than his fair share of disciplinary action and subsequent trade speculation in its aftermath, but Sunday night, Cousins showed why the Kings aren’t too anxious to give up on him.
Cousins didn’t have the greatest shooting night (he finished just 4-for-12 from the field) but he made contributions all over the floor and posted a bargain-basement triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“Down the stretch, Cousins just took the game over,” Rivers said.
Box Score Nuggets
- Despite the blowout loss, six Celtics scored in double figures.
- Courtney Lee played just over 20 minutes and went 0-for-6 from the field, but was Boston's only player who played significant minutes to finish with a positive number (+7) in the plus/minus ratings.
- Jarvis Varnado connected on the first two field goals of his NBA career in garbage time.
- Kevin Garnett added six assists to his 16 points and 12 rebounds, finishing behind Rajon Rondo who notched 10 helpers.
- Jeff Green had four of his 18 field goal attempts blocked, but he still finished with 16 points.
- All 11 Kings players who took the floor scored at least two points.
- The Celtics allowed 60 points (30 apiece) over the second and third quarters.
- Paul Pierce did not attempt a free throw and Boston's starters went just 6-for-6 from the line.
- The Celtics scored just two points in the paint in the first quarter.
Quote of the Night
Defensively, we were bad the whole trip besides the effort in New Jersey where we beat a broken team. We’ve got to get better. I’ve got to figure out the right guys who want to get it done every night. Number 1, we’ve go to guard the ball better and keep it in front of us. Doc Rivers on Boston's tough 1-3 holiday road trip