Celtics no longer bullies in fourth quarter

Celtics no longer bullies in fourth quarter
February 17, 2012, 8:42 pm
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CHICAGO In the Big Three era, if you played the Boston Celtics and the game came down to executing in the game's final minute or two, you might as well be playing Russian Roulette.

Because more often than not, the C's closed out such games with deadly precision and accuracy.

Today?

Opponents seem to be playing with house money in those kind of situations, as the Celtics have had problems - lots of problems, actually - closing out games.

Boston (15-14) has lost four of its last five games.

Although each of those games had its own particular denouement, the story line - not getting it done in the fourth - was a constant.

All except the Raptors loss was relatively close throughout the fourth quarter.

"We're not reacting well when teams are making runs," said Boston's Jermaine O'Neal. "It's almost like we go into panic mode. We try to get it all back with one or two plays."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has often referred to that as playing "home run ball."

Well lately, the C's have been striking out a lot.

In their most recent loss, an 89-80 defeat in Chicago, Boston trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter before rallying to take a brief lead in the fourth.

With the score tied at 69, Chicago reeled off 12 straight points and never looked back.

It was a stretch that served as a reminder of not only how good the Bulls with or without Derrick Rose (he did not play due to a back injury), it also proved once again that this Celtics team - for now at least - does not have what it takes to close out games with any kind of consistency.

"It sucks; it sucks," said Ray Allen in describing his team's fourth quarter play this season. "Fourth quarters have been our quarters. In the fourth quarter, regardless of the game, we pull it out. We execute offensively. We know who we're going to go to scoring-wise. Right now, it's up in the air. We know who are scorers are on this team. I just don't think we do a good job of making those plays happen down the stretch."