Cold Shooting Sinks C’s on Frigid Night in Boston

On a frigid night in Boston, the Celtics' shooting hands couldn't warm up.

The visiting Suns, meanwhile, brought the heat from Phoenix and sizzled their way to a 106-94 win inside TD Garden.

While the Boston windchill hovered around 30-below for the first time in years, the Celtics shot below 30 percent from 3-point range for the first time in 2023. It was quite a contrast to their shooting performance just two nights prior in a season-best 43-point win over the Brooklyn Nets when they shot 48.1 percent from deep, their best mark of 2023.

The C’s managed to put up just 44 points in the first half Friday night after pouring in 46 points during the first quarter of their 139-96 win Wednesday night.

Despite being unable to get going early on the offensive end, interim head coach Joe Mazzulla felt that the team “got off to a really good start” on the defensive side of the ball.

“I thought our defense was active,” Mazzulla said after the game. “I thought we forced the right shots. I thought the guys we wanted to take the shots took the shots. But I thought we had a ton of empty possessions offensively and then that’s where we kind of were like, OK, we have to find a different way to execute. And so I don’t think it was [a lack of focus]. I thought our guys came out with the right intentions.”

However, their lack of intentions on the offensive end caused them to fall into a 20-point hole during the first half. In total, the Celtics committed 15 turnovers to Phoenix’s nine and allowed more than three times as many second-chance opportunities (10 to three). Those disparities allowed the Suns to attempt 20 more field goals (95) than Boston (75), and it’s difficult to make up for a difference like that.

Give the C’s credit, though: they did manage to cut their massive deficit down to one point at the end of the third quarter. But they just couldn’t get over the hump, as Phoenix opened the final frame on an 8-0 run, which set the tone for the remainder of the game.

“The group that started the fourth, we missed some shots early with some decent looks,” said Jaylen Brown. “But they just dominated us on the defensive end. We didn't get stops, they got some offensive rebounds, they made some shots. They got it going. They were willing to run, and we didn't answer.”

Boston will have to wait until Monday night to answer for Friday’s loss, as it’ll head to Detroit in search of its 38th win.

Brown Keeps Pace with Lewis

Jaylen Brown was one of the few hot spots for a cold Celtics team Friday night, logging game-highs of 27 points and three steals along with eight rebounds and four assists. He also climbed Boston’s all-time scoring leaderboard, passing Reggie Lewis into 19th place.

The most remarkable aspect of the feat was how Brown matched not only Lewis’ scoring total, but also Lewis’ games total. Both shooting guards reached 7,902 points in exactly 450 career games.

Brown finished the game with 7,911 career points to his name, placing him exactly 400 points behind Cedric Maxwell in 18th place.