Rondo leads Celtics to win over Spurs

BOSTON — “They executed better in the last minute and a half in the third-quarter and the last minute and a half of the fourth-quarter.”

Execution was on the lips of San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich after the game; however, it was not the Spurs who executed properly in Boston.

It was a meeting of the top two teams in the NBA in what was billed as an NBA Finals preview between the Spurs and Boston Celtics.

The Spurs were coming off a stunning loss to the New York Knicks and were looking to shake it off against a Celtics team without Kevin Garnett. However, in the opening moments, the game had a feel that what happened in New York was about to happen in Boston.

The Spurs defense was lacking in the opening moments of the game as the Celtics were getting in the lane and easy shots at the basket due to terrible defense by the Spurs. This led to an early timeout called by Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich.

As the first-half progressed, the Spurs’ vaunted defense finally began to appear and Gary Neal and Richard Jefferson were hitting their shots. At the end of the first quarter it was 27-25 Celtics with the lead.

The second-quarter opened with Celtics’ Nate Robinson hitting a pair of jumpers which got the Celtics’ crowd in a frenzy but luckily for the Spurs, Richard Jefferson was also finding his groove as at one point he was 3/3 from the field, 2/2 from the three-point line, 1/1 from the free-throw line in 14 minutes of play. Tony Parker began to get hot from the field, finding his way to the basket, coupled with Shaquille O’Neal missing free-throws led to the Spurs taking a slim half-time lead, 51-49.

The second-half of the game was nip-and-tuck and when the game got close, it became the Manu Ginobili and Rajon Rondo show. Both were making crucial plays for their respective teams — Rondo was making the timely assist while Ginobili was hitting the crucial shot. But poor execution down the stretch by the Spurs allowed Boston to build a lead and just when the Spurs were seemingly out of the game, the Celtics let the door open for a Spurs comeback.

The Celtics started to commit fouls, and Paul Pierce picked up a technical foul which led to the Spurs taking the lead. Ray Allen missed two free-throws which would have sealed the game for Boston and left the door open for the Spurs to escape Boston with a win.

However, poor execution down the stretch by the Spurs and failure to execute their final play led to the Spurs’ second-consecutive loss. Spurs lose to the Celtics, 105-103 and fall to 29-6 for the season.

They will next face the Indiana Pacers in Indiana.

Notes:

  • Popovich on Celtics’ Rondo and his triple-double performance with 22 assists, 12 points and 10 rebounds, “He affects the game on both ends of the court. He puts it in the hole. He plays”D,” gets steals, rebounds, he does everything. He’s a great all-around player.”
  • Popovich on Celtics’ Ray Allen who scored 31 points off 13-16 shooting, “Ray got off to a great start because he does that better than anybody in basketball.” “If it was practice I don’t know if anyone in the league would hit 13 out of 16. He does it in a game. I think he’s pretty good.”
  • Glen Davis scored 23 points for Boston.
  • Spurs had six players in double-figures with Ginobili leading the Spurs with 24 points.
  • Spurs shot 45.3% while the Celtics shots 61.3%.
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