BOSTON -- It wasnt the Celtics first loss to the season. In fact, it was their tenth. But after Sundays last-minute defeat by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it seemed like one of the worst.
I could put all sorts of sprinkles on top of this cupcake, Kevin Garnett said following the Cavs 88-87 win. I dont know a guy thats in here that wasnt very, very distraught and upset today.
The Celtics entered the game on a four-game winning streak. They held a 70-62 lead after three quarters and built their edge up to 11 points with four minutes and 25 seconds to go.
Then, it fell apart.
The Cs did not score the rest of the game as the Cavaliers closed out the fourth on a 12-0 run. Rookie Kyrie Irving scored six points and Anderson Varejao added four during the stretch while the Celtics committed three turnovers.
After Irving connected on a driving layup to give the Cavs a one-point lead with 2.6 seconds left, Paul Pierce failed to get a shot off at the buzzer.
The defense just didnt step up, said Pierce, who expressed frustration in the fact that he played less than four minutes in the final quarter. We allowed more points in the fourth quarter than we did all game, and the turnovers really came to bite us. I turned the ball over too much today. Turnovers really came back to bite us today. We shot 50 percent, they shoot 43, but thats the difference in the game. We turned the ball over too many times.
Had the Celtics played consistently throughout the fourth quarter, the game would not have come down to a final shot. But their scoring freeze gave a Cavaliers team led by a offensively-savvy rookie the momentum they needed to take this game back.
It seemed like we didnt get to our spots and we didnt execute where we needed to execute down the stretch, said Ray Allen. I thought we did a good job of it all game but I think we scored 17 in the fourth. I dont believe we gave ourselves a chance to score. We had opportunities but we didnt make the best of them. We had those looks. With the lead that we, if we got stops it wouldnt have mattered if we had scored on offense.
The Celtics will face the Cavaliers on Tuesday in Cleveland. There is no redemption -- Sundays loss is on their record no matter what happens the next game -- but the Cs will enter that contest knowing they have to play a full 48 minutes. They saw what happened when they dont.
I also thought we let our guard down, said Doc Rivers. I told our guys, Think about down the stretch, the last five minutes, how many cute plays we made. No-look passes, behind-the-back passes, and they got deflected and we didnt score on them. You lose games this way. This was a bad loss for us. Not that it was Cleveland, it was that we had the game under control and we didnt take care of it.