NEW ORLEANS – The box score will show that the New Orleans Hornets beat the Boston Celtics on a tip-in in the final second (0.6 seconds remaining, to be exact) by Hornets big man Anthony Davis.
Truth be told, the Celtics had this game lost well before that.
Even when they had rallied from nine points down in the fourth to regain the lead, the Celtics had played a game of losing basketball up to that point.
Because there never should have been a need to make a comeback. The Hornets, the worst team in the Western Conference this season, had no business being allowed to position themselves to compete let alone win a game that meant should have meant so much more to Boston.
"We absolutely deserved to lose the game, whether we won it or not," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We deserved to lose the game."
"We just can't play down to anybody," said Avery Bradley. "We have to play consistent; that's what we have to do every single game and we didn't do that tonight."
It was a night in which the dreaded "Cool Celtics" that Rivers hates to see, were on the floor for long stretches in the second half after Boston built a double-digit lead at the half.
All that the C's did well in the first half to gain control, soon became a distant memory.
"We went from being a solid, just a good looking basketball team, to showtime," Rivers said. "I believe in the basketball gods. When you mess with the game, the game messes you up."
It's one thing if the Celtics had a game or two like this all season. But these kind of losses, bad losses to bad teams, have been a part of this team's identity for months.
Just last week, the C's got drilled by 26 points at Charlotte, a team that's even worse than the Hornets.
It speaks volumes about how this team simply hasn't figured out how to play with the necessary consistency or killer instinct that one can should expect from a team that believes it has the ability to go deep into the playoffs.
"When you have a team down 10 at the half, you gotta come out with better focus at the start of the third," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "When you get a team like this, that's lost a lot of games, they don't really have a lot of confidence."
That is, until you allow them to hang around in part because of shoddy ball movement and inconsistent defense.
"We don't learn," said a visibly disappointed Rivers. "We've done this three or four times this year; we just don't learn."
And while the players continue to publicly state that they will figure it out in time for the playoffs, there's little evidence that such a transformation will come about anytime soon.
Kevin Garnett acknowledges that he's worried about the fact that these head-scratching losses to bad teams is still a problem with just 15 games remaining.
"It's a concern. I'm not going to sit up here and sugarcoat anything," Garnett said. "We have to get better at that. It's more consciousness. I'm sure we'll work on it, try to get better at it. But with this being this late in the season, we should be better. But nothing's perfect. We are a team that at times that looks good, but we all have our flaws. And we just need to work on it, to be honest."
"It's disturbing because playoffs are right around the corner," said Pierce. "One game in the playoffs could be the difference in a series. Between now and when the playoffs start next month, we have to clean up those little things, defensive breakdowns, offensive execution down the stretch if we're expecting to go anywhere in the playoffs."