BOSTON — While most will remember the Boston Celtics' 87-80 loss to Phoenix for how the Celtics fell apart in the final minute of play, head coach Brad Stevens saw things unraveling for his bunch much earlier than that.
"We collapsed at the end, but the fact of the matter is we probably lost the game just as much in the third quarter," Stevens said. "Our offense was incredibly stagnant."
In the third quarter, Boston shot just 4-for-20 from the field, committing more turnovers (5) than made baskets.
Boston squandered a golden opportunity to take control of the game during a time when defensively, the Celtics kept the high-scoring Suns from getting out in transition as well as they had in the first half.
They began the fourth quarter with a strong 9-0 run in just 94 seconds, but once again the team's offense began to sputter.
And what makes Friday's loss so bad was that they faced a Phoenix team that has been middle-of-the-pack when it comes to limiting opponents from shooting a high percentage.
The Suns came into Friday's game ranked 15th in the NBA in field goal percentage defense (45.5 percent).
Boston shot a woeful 30.9 percent for the game.
"I thought we did a better job, we played harder defensively," said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. "I don't know if that affected our offense or our offense was not very good. We missed shots, but again defense when you aren't shooting the ball well, can win you the game and I think it did tonight."
And with that, here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from yet another Celtics loss
He continues to be one of the Celtics' most consistent big men despite logging fewer minutes than most of his fellow rotational big men. On Friday, he tallied his seventh double-double this season with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while playing less than 25 minutes.
There were far too many players who struggled making baskets to single any one out in particular. Boston shot just 30.9 percent for the game, and yet were very much in the game until the final minute of play.
Late game execution
Without question this was one of the more disappointment losses suffered by this team recently. The last minute of play may have been the Celtics' worst minute of action all night as Boston allowed the Suns to score seven unanswered points in the final 54.1 seconds.