Scoring droughts continue to plague Celtics

Scoring droughts continue to plague Celtics
January 12, 2014, 1:45 am
Share This Post

The Boston Celtics are no different than any other NBA team.

They will make mistakes, sooner or later.

But for the Celtics, far too often this season those mishaps come in the final moments of play which was once again a factor in Boston's latest setback, a 112-104 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

Boston (13-24) lost all five games during its West Coast trip, bringing their overall string of defeats to a season-long eight straight.

And while you can point to their inconsistent rebounding or their up-and-down defense as major players in their recent run of futility, scoring droughts seem to be the biggest hurdle for them to overcome.

Saturday's loss to the Blazers was indeed one of those games.

Boston fell behind by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but chopped Portland's lead down to 108-102 with about two minutes to play, with possession of the ball.

A 3-point miss by Jordan Crawford was rebounded by Jared Sullinger.

Moments later, Jeff Green launched a 3-pointer and that too was off the mark.

Avery Bradley grabbed the Green miss, keeping hope alive that finally, finally the Celtics would have a breakthrough shot on what had been an otherwise dismal trip.

The ball wound up in the hands of Crawford who once again had a chance to make it a one-possession game.

And once again, his shot came up short.

Not too long after that, Portland's Robin Lopez was fouled, made both free throws and in doing so he essentially iced the win for the Blazers.

Just 24 hours earlier at Golden State, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter before tying the game at 97 following a Green basket.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry who had been struggling most of the game, drilled a long jumper for the game-winner with 2.1 seconds to play.

Boston had a chance to force overtime against Golden State, but Green lost control of the ball which wound up in the hands of Gerald Wallace.

Wallace immediately tossed up a desperation heave that had little to no shot at going in. And with that miss, the Celtics once again missed out on an opportunity to close out a game with a victory.

And yes, the Celtic players are well aware of this inability to close teams out as being a major flaw in their game.

"We haven't been able to finish out games the way that we wanted to," Bradley told reporters following Saturday's loss. "It's been unfortunate."

Bradley added, "We had opportunities to win the last game and this game. Towards the end of the game, we make little mistakes; the other team scores on the mistakes that we make. I think that comes from being a young team. We're still learning how to finish games."

And part of those growing pains involves the Celtics having their share of what seems like quarter-long shooting slumps.

On Saturday, Boston shot a woeful 7-for-30 (23.3 percent) from the field in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, they were solid in limiting the Blazers in the fourth to just 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) shooting in the fourth.

Even before the Boston's late-game shooting swoon, Wallace had a feeling the Celtics might be in trouble.

"We were shooting almost 70 percent in the first half and we were only up by two points," he said. "That should tell you a lot right there."

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, "you can't count on that kind of shooting (for an entire game). You have to lock in defensively. And at times we did." 

Still, Stevens would be remiss in not acknowledging the impact that the Celtics' shooting slumps have had on recent games.

"For whatever reason, we've done that in all these games," Stevens said. "Those droughts are killing us. There's no question about it."