After dropping games to teams like the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Bobcats and Indiana Pacers as of late, the Boston Celtics had their eyes set on the San Antonio Spurs and had no intention of dropping another game.
The Celtics are now that much closer to re-claiming first place in the East, while the Lakers are now within arms length of the Spurs after the Spurs dropped their fifth straights loss 97-107 on Thursday night.
Before the game, the Spurs returned Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess to the lineup.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Celtics. Tony Parker was slashing through the lane and scoring at will, but Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo found a way to answer back on the other end of the court.
While both teams got out to a fast pace in the first quarter, both also struggled on offense in the second quarter and the game was all tied up after one half.
The third quarter was key for the Celtics. With the Spurs continuing to struggle, and missing six three-pointers in the quarter, the Celtics got scoring out of just about everyone on the floor for them. While the offensive struggles hurt, what hurt more was that the Spurs were not able to defend well enough to keep the Celtics from making runs.
The Spurs also had trouble rotating and closing out on wide open shooters. While Ray Allen had a terrible shooting night due to double teams, the Celtics and Allen were smart enough to get the ball to the open man, which left Spurs players running at players with more than enough space.
While Gary Neal and Tim Duncan tried to get the Spurs back in the game, they weren’t able to make the stops to make a considerable dent in the Celtics’ lead.
“The game was won when we got a little three happy in the third quarter. Then the transition defense didn’t follow,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Some of the shots were very good and open, some were contested. The transition after it is really important and they took advantage of it. They made it a ten-point game at that point and we couldn’t get back in it and that was the game.”
Tony Parker led both teams in scoring and finished the game with 23 points and eight assists. Tim Duncan had 20 in his return and Richard Jefferson added 14. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 22 points and 14 assists.
• The Spurs are now 57-18 on the season.
• They are now 33-5 at home.
• This is the first five-game losing streak of the Duncan era.
• The Los Angeles Lakers are now within 2.5 games.