Fast Break: Celtics can’t catch up to Thunder
|01.16.12 at 10:32 pm ET|
In a reminder of just how different this team is from the one that won the NBA title in 2008, the Celtics welcomed former center Kendrick Perkins to town, and his new team handed his (really) old team their fifth straight defeat, 97-88.
As Kevin Durant (28 points) and Russell Westbrook (26 points) combined for 54 points, the Thunder improved to 12-2 with their sixth road win in seven tries, leaving the Celtics (4-8) still searching for their first victory against a .500-plus team.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Slow me the way: The Celtics shot 34.1 percent in the first half and failed to scored 40 points before the break for the fourth time in six games, trailing the Thunder 46-39 after the opening 24 minutes. Once again, the C’s dug themselves into an early hole and spent the rest of the night tiring themselves out trying to dig out of it. Twice in the second half — once in the third and again late in the fourth quarter — they made runs to get back into the game, only to watch OKC widen the gap again.
Can they get a lift? The Celtics made a concerted effort to get to the rim, and they succeeded in getting to the basket, but their old legs just didn’t have the lift to finish the job. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka totaled four blocks in the first half alone, leaving the C’s with little to show for their effort.
Russell Westbrook > Rajon Rondo: At least for one night, in a battle of two point guards who have been mentioned in possible trade scenarios for each other, Westbrook got the best of his counterpart Rondo. Sure, Rondo nearly had a triple-double (12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers), but Westbrook buried impossibly big shot after impossibly big shot down the stretch, totaling 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ain’t that The Truth: Entering Monday night, Pierce had converted only 13-of-46 field goals (or 28.3%) in his previous four games, still playing himself back into game shape after missing much of training camp with a heel injury. Against Oklahoma City, the C’s captain showed signs of returning to form, netting 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
Marvelous Pietrus: The Celtics needed somebody who can score and play defense off the bench, and they found him in Pietrus. The newest C’s reserve has shown few signs of a knee injury that nullified his trade to the Raptors this past offseason. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-6 3P).
A Marquis Daniels sighting: Daniels hadn’t scored in almost two weeks, playing a grand total of 55 seconds in the C’s last three games. Whether or not it’s a result of his recovery from spinal cord surgery, the three-year C’s veteran has had a rough start to the 2011-12 NBA season, but he made the most of his five first-half minutes — totaling four points on a pair of layups and grabbing three boards.
Welcome back, Perk: As they’ve done for the likes of Brian Scalabrine and Eddie House in the past, the Celtics paid homage to Perkins in a Jumbotron montage as the crowd stood in ovation during a timeout break. Between the whistles, though, the Celtics kept their former starting center in check — holding him to seven points and five boards. Both Jermaine O’Neal (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Kevin Garnett (12 points, 12 rebounds) outperformed Perkins on the evening.
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