Celtics defense shuts down Thunder, 108-100


Celtics defense shuts down Thunder, 108-100

BOSTON Kendrick Perkins called it.

Prior to Friday's game against his former team the Boston Celtics, Perkins predicted that all the concerns and questions about the C's defense would not be sooner rather than later.

"They'll pick it up," Perkins said. "They'll pick it up. New guys, chemistry, they'll get it together."

Boston certainly did in their 108-100 win over Perkins and the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Boston's first win this season when giving up 100 points.

The Celtics (7-6) were led by Paul Pierce's 27 points along with strong games from Kevin Garnett (18 points) and Jason Terry (16 points).

Boston went ahead in the third quarter and spent the rest of the game taking one body shot after another from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And there they stood, tall as ever.

Even a last-minute scoring barrage by Kevin Durant could not derail the C's from this hard-earned win.

Boston led 101-89 following a 3-pointer by Terry. From there, the Thunder reeled off nine points in a row to make it a one-possession game with less than two minutes to play.

The Thunder had a chance to even up the score, but Kevin Durant's 3-pointer rimmed in and out.

Boston got the rebound, force-fed Garnett at the other end of the floor which led to Garnett being fouled.

He sank both free throws with 1:01 to play. But it wasn't until three straight misses by the Thunder - followed by another Terry 3-pointer with 36.7 seconds to play - did the C's feel as though this game was a done deal.

Oklahoma City called a time-out, but it didn't matter.

There was just too much ground to make up and not enough time.

Boston had to withstand a late surge by Durant, who came to life in the fourth with 14 of his game-high 29 points.

The Thunder seemed to have the game going at a pace of their choosing early on, tallying 28 first-quarter points.

But the game's momentum soon swung in Boston's favor shortly after Kevin Durant was whistled for his third personal foul with nearly five minutes remaining in the first half.

At the time, Oklahoma City was ahead 36-32. With Durant on the bench, Boston closed out the half with a 16-9 run capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Terry that lifted the Celtics to a 48-45 halftime lead.

Durant was on the floor to start the third quarter but it didn't matter. He was for the most part a non-factor at that point in the game.

However, the Thunder have been one of the best teams in the NBA in recent years and it has not been solely because of Durant.

Oklahoma City also features one of the league's most dynamic guards in Russell Westbrook who did his part to keep the Thunder within striking distance.

For Boston, the contributions came from many most of the night.

Among them was Jeff Green who was playing against his former Oklahoma City teammates for the first time since being traded to Boston in 2010. Green had 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Before the game, Green talked as though this game wasn't anything significant other than being "one of 82" this season.

Yeah. OK. Right.

Green had one of his more solid all-around games at both ends of the floor, getting it done with an array of lay-ups, dunks and jumpers.

But as the Thunder continued to keep the game close, the Celtics found themselves relying more and more on an old friend who hasn't been around much this year - their defense.

Key rebounds, important shots contested mixed in with an occasional offensive foul drawn, were all part of a Celtics performance that has to rank among their better ones this season.

And it wasn't necessarily because of how well they played, but how they handled adversity and when pushed they showed the kind of perseverance and fight that has been missing most of this season.

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