Celtics implode in fourth quarter, lose to Raptors, 114-106

Celtics implode in fourth quarter, lose to Raptors, 114-106

The Boston Celtics have been one of the league’s best fourth quarter teams most of this season.

So there was indeed a bit of irony to their 114-106 loss at Toronto, a game in which the Raptors closed out the night with a decisive 23-6 run.

MORE:

With the loss, Boston (23-15) is now two games behind Toronto (25-13) in the Atlantic Division standings. Even more significant is that the Celtics have now lost both of their head-to-head matchups with the Raptors, with two more to play this season.

That could come into play if these two finish with an identical regular season record, which is very possible especially when you consider half of the teams in the East that made it to the playoffs finished the regular season with a 48-34 record.

But playoff position was the last thing on the Celtics mind following Tuesday’s loss, a game in which they went into having a chance to tie the Raptors record-wise and with that, move into the No. 2 spot in the East.

Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan took over in the second half which is when he scored 31 of his game-high 41 points which included 19 points in the third quarter which is when the Raptors swung the game’s momentum in their favor.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 27 points, nine coming in the fourth quarter. Boston got a nice lift off the bench from Gerald Green who had 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.

It was a sluggish start for both teams offensively in the first quarter which ended with Toronto ahead 23-18.

But the second quarter was an entirely different game for the Celtics who pulled ahead by as many as 10 points.

And like most of their success, it was far from a one or two-man show, either.

Marcus Smart, filling in for Avery Bradley (Achilles injury) for the second straight game, had nine points in the quarter along with a couple rebounds and a couple steals. He would finish with 15 points, five assists and four steals.

And off the bench, Green didn’t waste any time heating up from the field with nine points while playing all but 35 seconds in the second.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were able to keep DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry from having big quarters in the first half as each scored five points in the second quarter which was equal to what they delivered scoring-wise in the first.

At the half, Boston had a solid 55-46 lead that they increased to as many as 16 in the third quarter before the Raptors began to make their all-too-predictable surge.

Toronto’s shooters began to heat up, but didn’t cut into Boston’s lead until the latter stages of the third quarter.

Boston’s double-digit lead was down to just 80-76 with 1:06 to play as Toronto went on an 8-0 run.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens brought Thomas back into the game earlier than usual.

And Thomas didn’t waste much time, getting to the free throw line within seconds of returning to the floor as the Celtics went into the fourth quarter ahead 84-80.

But Thomas' usual fourth quarter heroics just weren't enough to withstand a strong finish by the Raptors who remain the best team in the East besides Cleveland.

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics 'pummeled on the glass' by Knicks

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics 'pummeled on the glass' by Knicks

BOSTON – It seems to not matter whether teams go big or small against the Boston Celtics, rebounding remains a problem.

The Knicks proved that on Wednesday in handing the Boston Celtics a 117-106 loss which snapped Boston’s season-best seven game winning streak at home.

In the past, conversations regarding Boston’s rebounding problems centered around them playing against teams that just had more size and muscle in the frontcourt.

That was not the case against the Knicks (19-24) who out-rebounded Boston 57-33 despite playing smaller lineups than most of the Celtics’ past opponents.

“They were small tonight, so it’s not like that should’ve been a big excuse from a size standpoint,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Not that you should ever get out-rebounded by 24. But we weren’t much different; in fact we were bigger for most of the game and we still got … we just got pummeled on the glass.”

When it comes to rebounding with a small lineup, often it’s just a matter of who wants the ball more.

And the Celtics (26-16) had to acknowledge on Wednesday that most of Wednesday night, it was the Knicks.

“They played harder than us, they out-rebounded us, they played more physical than us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “You’re not going to beat anybody the way they manhandled us.”

Celtics forward Jae Crowder echoed similar sentiments.

“They wanted it more than we did,” Crowder said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday’s game.

 

STARS

Derrick Rose

It was very much a hot tub time machine kind of night for Rose, who looked very much like the dominant player who won the league’s MVP award in 2011. Rose led the Knicks with a team-high 30 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Isaiah Thomas

While Thomas had yet another strong showing in the fourth quarter, this was one of those nights when he needed more help than usual. That said, he still led all scorers with 39 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.

 

STUDS

Willy Hernangomez

No player better personified the struggles Boston had on the boards all game, than Hernangomez. He came off the Knicks bench to score 17 points and grab a game-high 11 rebounds – four on the offensive glass.

Jae Crowder

There were a lot of things to like about Crowder’s play on Wednesday, especially his defense on Carmelo Anthony (13 points, 5-for-14 shooting). But Crowder also delivered on the offensive end, scoring 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting with five rebounds and an assist.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

Another unsung hero for New York on Wednesday, he had 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds and two assists.

Jaylen Brown

It was a rough night for most of the Celtics, but Brown did provide a bit of lift when he was in the game. He finished with 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with four rebounds and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

This was one of those games that Horford would be wise to forget as soon as he can. He scored a season-low five points and shot just  2-for-14 which was the worst shooting game of his career.

No late-game heroics for Celtics as they lose to Knicks, 117-106

No late-game heroics for Celtics as they lose to Knicks, 117-106

BOSTON – Lately, shots seemed to fall for just about every player the Boston Celtics put on the floor. You knew sooner or later, Boston would have one of those nights when those same shots wouldn’t fall.

And then there’s the New York Knicks at the opposite end of that spectrum, a team that was overdue for a good night of basketball after having lost 11 of their previous 13 games.

Both worlds collided on Wednesday night, resulting in a 117-106 loss for the Celtics.

Not even the usual late-game scoring heroics of Isaiah Thomas could save the Celtics this time. He led all scorers with 39 points but only eight came in the fourth.  

Trailing 88-83 going into the fourth quarter, Boston (26-16) had been within striking distance on a number of occasions earlier in the night, only to have the Knicks (19-24) rebuff them with a made basket, or a rebound or a rebound that led to a made basket.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, seemingly playing uphill most of the night.

No player exhibited Boston’s struggles more than Al Horford.

The four-time All-Star had arguably his worst game as a Celtic, scoring just five points while missing 12 of his 14 field goal attempts.  

Even though Boston spent most of the game trailing, it was hard to not think the Celtics would do what we’ve seen them do time and time again of late and that’s find a way to win in the fourth quarter.

After all, the fourth quarter has been good to the Celtics – especially Isaiah Thomas.

He leads the NBA in fourth quarter points at 10.1 per game, the kind of fourth quarter scoring the league has never seen before.

But Thomas never found any kind of late-game rhythm, a similar experience felt by most of his teammates.

It wasn’t just bad shooting that ultimately sunk the Celtics.

Rebounding, which has been a problem for them all season, was a major factor in Wednesday’s outcome as well.

For the game, New York out-rebounded Boston 57-33. Many of those boards were on the offensive glass which was a major factor in the Knicks holding a 24-12 advantage on second-chance points.

And as impressive as Thomas has been in elevating his game in the fourth quarter this season, the Knicks were being led by an equally determined Derrick Rose.

The former league MVP looked like his old self instead of just old, dribble-driving his way in and out of the paint, raising up for stop-on-the-dime jumpers. He would finish with a team-high 30 points.

The Celtics led 34-31 after the first quarter, but spent most of the night afterwards playing catchup to a New York Knicks team that came in having lost 11 of its previous 13 games.

NOTE

Both Boston and New York were missing key players with a sore Achilles injury. For the Celtics, they were without Avery Bradley (right Achilles) and the Knicks were missing Kristaps Porzingis (left Achilles).