The Boston Celtics had won 13 of their past 17 games heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Thunder thanks in large part to their stellar bench play. Boston’s core rotation of reserves, led by Jeff Green and Jason Terry, had been playing phenomenal basketball for more than a month.
Many pundits believed that their impressive streak would continue on Sunday against a Thunder team that lacks supreme depth. Oklahoma City’s only high-powered reserve is Kevin Martin, which meant that Boston’s bench should have excelled in the game.
Such was not the case on Sunday, as none of Boston’s reserves scored in double-figures and they combined to shoot a woeful 7-of-25 from the field while committing 10 turnovers. Oklahoma City’s bench wasn’t a whole lot better, as it combined to shoot 11-of-26 from the field, but it came through when the Thunder needed it most – at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Three Thunder reserves combined to score the first 11 points of the fourth quarter for their team. Meanwhile, they helped to limit Boston to just two points at the other end of the court during that stretch.
Nick Collison began the 11-2 run by hitting a mid-range jumper just 21 seconds into the frame. That basket was assisted by former Boston College standout Reggie Jackson, who went on to score the next six points for Oklahoma City. Jackson scored those six points in a variety of ways, as he drained two free throws, drove to the basket for a layup and then hit a 17-foot, step-back jumper. Kevin Martin capped the spurt with an and-one layup that put the Thunder on top 79-67 with 8:36 remaining in the game.
A 12-point deficit is certainly not insurmountable with more than eight minutes remaining in a game, but this was not the day in which Boston would be staging a dramatic comeback. They struggled to score all afternoon and wound up shooting a woeful 37.7 percent from the field. That percentage included a 4-of-22 shooting performance in the fourth quarter that was spearheaded by a 2-of-7 total from Boston’s reserves.
This was not the Celtics’ best game, and it certainly wasn’t one that their bench will want to remember. That group was supposed to be Boston’s strength on Sunday, but instead, it was Oklahoma City’s reserves who stole the show in crunch time.
Key Box Score Line
If it were possible to devote this section to free throws, we’d make that happen today, seeing as Oklahoma City made seven more free throws than Boston attempted. Since that isn’t possible, it’s Brandon Bass’ day to enjoy the Key Box Score Line.
Bass didn’t put up gaudy scoring numbers on Sunday but he did make a major impact on this game. He tied his career high in rebounding with a game-high 13 boards, which included five at the offensive end. Bass only scored six points but that was due to his limited shot attempts. He made three of his four field goal attempts on the afternoon.
This was a game in which every player on Boston’s team not named Brandon Bass was playing on tired legs. He was flying around the court as if he had just downed a box of Red Bull before the game. His hustle, energy and passion helped the Celtics stay in contention for the win all while inspiring his teammates to battle until the final buzzer. This was an inspiring effort from Bass, and we hope to see more of the same as the season continues.
Box Score Nuggets
- Each team's starting small forward scored at least 20 points, with Kevin Durant totaling 23 and Paul Pierce scoring 20.
- The Celtics outrebounded the Thunder 44-41.
- Each team had only three players score in double-figures.
- Oklahoma City's 91 points were the least they had scored in 25 games, according to ABC.
- The Celtics did not score more than 23 points in any of the four quarters.
- Brandon Bass tied his career high with a game-high 13 boards.
- Kevin Garnett and Durant each grabbed 11 boards.
- Pierce also dished out a game-high six assists.
- Jason Terry committed a game-high four turnovers.
- Avery Bradley (12 points, three boards, five assists) outperformed Russell Westbrook (15 points, one board, two assists).
- The Thunder shot 27-of-33 from the free-throw line.
- Those 27 made free throws were seven more than the Celtics attempted.
- Kevin Garnett struggled with his shot, as he shot just 5-of-19 from the field.
- Boston shot just 37.7 percent in the game.
Quote of the Night
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