Terry shoulders blame for C's loss

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Terry shoulders blame for C's loss

MILWAUKEE Jason Terry was having a solid game for the Boston Celtics.

He was scoring, dropping dimes at Rajon Rondo-like rate and his defense was solid - mostly solid.

But he made one mistake, one that proved costly in Boston's 91-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Clinging to a one-point lead with less than a minute to play, Terry somehow lost sight of Brandon Jennings who made the Celtics pay with a game-winning 3-pointer.

"The play wasn't for a three," Jennings said. "The play was for me to come off a pick with Larry (Sanders). If I had an open lane, of course take it to the hole. Or we had Monta (Ellis) at the other end. But we just moved the ball around and were able to get an open shot."

Things only got worst for Terry who had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, only to see his 3-pointer hit too hard off the back of the rim and roll out.

"Being a 14-year veteran, I can't make that crucial mistake (defensively) and leave Brandon Jennings (open) in the end," Terry said. "I told everybody I'll take this one on my shoulders."

As much as Terry's defensive gaffe contributed to the loss, his play prior to that was instrumental in the Celtics having the game in their control for most of the night.

With Rajon Rondo serving the second game of his two-game suspension, Terry had his first double-double of the season with 15 points and a season-high 11 assists. His facilitating was a key factor in Boston pulling ahead by as many as 17 points.

Like most of his teammates afterward, Terry pointed out how the Celtics did for the most part, what they wanted to do.

They had a horrific second quarter in which they gave up 36 points, but that came on the heels of a first quarter in which they held the Bucks to just 11 points.

"The frustrating thing about this loss ... playoff basketball," Terry said. "Basketball is a game of mistakes."

And Terry makes no secret about not forgetting the one he made in the game's closing seconds.

"I've been through so many possessions, so many games like this one," he said. "It just hurts me, for me to be in that position and not to either make a shot or not to make a defensive play. So again, I take this one on me; no problem. But I'll bet you I'll fight back and battle back next week."

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”