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Boston’s best game still not enough to beat Thunder

Jan 17, 2012, 12:57 AM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo AP

The good news: The return of Kendrick Perkins and the challenge to match up to one of NBA’s elite teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder got the Celtics to play their best game of the season.

The bad news: Oklahoma City 97, Boston 88.

Maybe the highlight for Boston fans was the video tribute to Perkins at the first time out, which was followed by a standing ovation. They really could have used a little of his fire tonight.

Boston is now 4-8 with five straight losses, the first time that has happened in the “big three” era. This season in Boston is starting to feel like so many of the Celtics games in it — they have dug themselves a hole with a slow start and now have to fight their way out of it just to make the playoffs.

It was far from perfect, but it was the best game Boston had played in total this season. Rajon Rondo nearly had a triple-double (12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds) and Mickael Pietrus was a gunner off the bench with 14. The Celtics defense looked the best it had this year.

But this much was clear — Oklahoma City was so much more athletic, more physical so much younger and more energetic. Rondo is the best player on the Celtics and yet at several times and when the game mattered most he could not stop Russell Westbrook. Put simply, the Thunder were better.

This game felt like so many Celtics game this year — not all of Boston’s big three seemed to click (Paul Pierce was on an finished with 24 but Ray Allen seemed to disappear) and Boston struggled at the start. Then the bench came in and couldn’t keep up the scoring pace (Marquis Daniels was the first bench player to score, more than three minutes into the second quarter) and soon it was a double-digit hole for Boston to fight back from.

They did. Pierce led a charge at the end of the first half to keep it close at the break. In the third quarter Doc Rivers experimented with a small lineup (Brandon Bass at center) and that got some fast break points. As the game wore on, Boston’s defense stiffened and they cut the lead to 78-76 with 5:10 left. Boston was forcing the Thunder to shoot jumpers.

The problem is, Kevin Durant can still knock them down. Durant had 28, and when Boston closed out on his jumpers he drove and had a dunk and created other good looks. Then in the role of third scorer usually played by James Harden, defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha dropped 19.

But in the end it was Westbrook and friends. The Thunder had been 3-of-15 from three on the night but with the game close late they hit four straight including a couple of daggers from Westbrook, who had 26 points and broke out a new three-point celebration (holstering his gun then… doing something with his hands, I’m not sure what exactly, but it was intentional).

For Oklahoma City, this is what is expected now, their stars stepping up in the clutch to win tough games on the road.

Boston tried to rise up to meet that challenge. They came close but not close enough. It’s a long season, one where it is far too early to write off these Celtics. But until they can get the big three all going at the same time and some kind of bench help, a lot of nights are going to look like this one.

  1. goforthanddie - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    Boston’s best game still not enough to beat ______

    Looks like that’s going to be a stock headline this year.

    • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      You nailed it, mister. Celtics suck now, are going to suck all season long and they will suck for the forseeable future.

      • giselleisasucubus - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        yeah, because you know they dont have any pieces going forward, like a 25 year old stud pg. The Celts need major help down low, then they will be fine. Keep saying they are done. I will be the one laughing when they somehow end up w/Kenyon Martin and JR Smith in March.

      • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:51 PM

        “Stud PG”? You mean the one that they wanted to trade away at the beginning of the season? Get a clue, succaboi.

      • goforthanddie - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        giselleisasucubus: Oh boy, they have 1/5 of a starting unit! And 3 geezers. And jack squat. And would the Chinese League people really want to sign with a heaping stack of loserhood like Boston when they could sign with a contender? And trust me, you won’t be laughing if they end up with those two, I will :)

  2. henryd3rd - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:47 AM

    Doc should have left and gone and watched his son play ball at Duke. This is going to a a difficult season for him with the “Big Three” getting old and no relief on the bench. And Danny Kevin is not coming to your rescue with any gift trades anytime soon.

    • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      Don’t be so sure…McHale is the HC in Houston and could somehow trade one of his best players to Boston for some scrub to cheat in favor of his old team. That’s how they roll in New England…by cheating.

      • giselleisasucubus - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        hey bozo, how bout you go f*$k yourself. I am so sick of your idiotic rants about Boston sports. Yeah, they cheat, sure. get a clue you moron. Do you realize how stupid and petty your comments look, every f’ing day? BTW- AL Jefferson was an all star PF who is about 100 times better than KG right now. Again, get a clue.

      • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Cry me a river, you little succu-wuss. Giselle wouldn’t give you the time of day, much less spit on you if you were on fire. And “petty” would describe the tons of foot and fat comments on Jets threads every day, not to mention the “Yankees Suck” T-shirts that have been sported in Fenway Park for decades now. We won’t even go into the negative comments that Lakers fans have to hear from you Celtics idiot fans. Just so you know, New England sports fans are the ones who cry and whine the loudest…the rest of us already know this, but somehow you all continue to turn a blind eye to your pathetic ways. So YOU need to get a clue.

    • therookie773 - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      The celtics needs his son more

  3. shadowfax5579 - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Dude, they’re called finger-guns, He’s blowing smoke off his finger-guns and holstering them. Sheeez. The guy in the Nationwide insurance commercial does finger shadow-puppets and does the same thing. Thunder-Up!

  4. Kansachusetts - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Just want to say I Told You So for the final time to all the numbskulls who last year said the Perkins trade was a good idea. Everybody in Boston last night, from Doc Rivers to Jackie McMullen was admitting it was a miserable trade. Anybody in his right mind knew that Shaq couldn’t take the place of Perkins last year. That was all a pipe dream. Their record before and after the trade is the crucial testimony.

    One of the stupidest trades in basketball history. Thanks, again, Danny.

    • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Thankfully, Danny is an idiot. Fits in perfect with that ignorant fan base up there.

      • giselleisasucubus - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        we’re ignorant, yet your screen name is bozosforall. Hey clown, what area are you from? You do realize that the Boston is the most educated area in the US, maybe the world, correct?

      • drewzducks - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        More mindless dribble from that one trick pony bjsforall.

      • 8man - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Yeah. I’d love to know where you are from, bozo. Let’s do a quick recap on what “ignorant” fan base has enjoyed the last ten years:

        4 Super Bowl appearances – 3 wins.
        2 World Series appearances – 2 wins
        2 NBA Finals appearances – 1 win
        1 Stanley Cup Finals appearance – 1 win

        and numerous other playoff berths too many to list. I don’t know you reside dude, and it doesn’t matter, because no sports town has had a better decade…ever! Can you dig it, suckah!

      • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        Doesn’t wipe away the titleless 80s though…not to mention the 86 titleless years by the Red Sox, the 40 titleless years by the Bruins, the 25 titleless years by the Celtics and the 41 titleless years by the Patriots. Keep telling yourself that the timing is something more than just pure chance…while the rest of us see the reality of the situation…which is that your teams aren’t anything special in the long-term view of the sports world…and your fans are the most self-serving bunch of blowhards on the planet.

      • goforthanddie - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        Big difference between “educated” and “having a lot of schools”. I mean, YOU’RE from there, and all those schools seem to have failed you :(

      • bozosforall - Jan 18, 2012 at 10:30 AM

        That could be said for the vast majority of New Englanders, goforth…in fact, since the majority of students at those schools are either from outside the state or outside the country even, that leaves the natives with the janitorial and sanitation engineering jobs, given that would be the only way that they could ever set foot on one of those overrated college campuses there.

    • giselleisasucubus - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      yeah, the Celtics are really missing Perks 5 pts and 6 rebounds a game. OK, let me explain basketball to the uneducated- KG was able to cover more ground in his first 3 years in Boston. In turn, people assume Perk had a lot to do with the great defense. News flash- he didnt. His #’s and game never improved in Boston, he isnt even the best Center in Okla City, but people want to blame that trade. The Celts w/Shaq were WAY better than w/Perk. Danny gambled because he realized that Green for Perk is a legit no brainer. Perk stinks. Why are people ignoring this? Yhe Celtics are getting worse because thiis team lives and dies w/KG, and KG is done. Perk would bring nothing to this team.

      • bozosforall - Jan 18, 2012 at 10:34 AM

        Meanwhile, without Perkins, your team SUCKS. Perkins covered for KG’s defensive limitations, moron. Typical of an idiot New England sports fan to call others “uneducated” while showing the world how stupid he is in the same post. And the team “lives and dies” by Pierce, not KG. KG could never take a team on his back to win a title, as was shown by his years in Minnesota. He had to jump ship and move over to Pierce’s team in order to get his one little ring. KG is not a leader, never has been and never will be. His phony chestbeating routine is old…and one day, he is going to pick the wrong guy to bully and that guy will beat his skinny ass to a pulp on the court.

  5. stillbleedingblue - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Moron, Westbrook has been doing that for three years now. You’re the worst blogger of all the Sports Talks. Do some research before posting.

  6. giselleisasucubus - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    also, that was far from Bostons best game. I have watched every minute this year, and the stretches that are good show this team is still dangerous. They key is this- Can Danny somehow get Kenyon Martin when he is released from his chinese contract? He could potentially be a HUGE help for this team with defense and rebounding.

    • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Poor desperate Boston…the Celtics would need much more than old ass Kenyon Martin to save their sorry asses. Face it, their run is over…one and done.

    • beagle11 - Jan 17, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      Your hoping Kenyon Martin and JR Smith “SOMEHOW” sign with Boston and you don’t think they are in trouble?

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