The Celtics didn’t make excuses for their 106-103 loss to the Nets tonight. Coach Doc Rivers, captain Paul Pierce, and Wally Szczerbiak all said the Celtics should have closed out New Jersey when they had a 16-point lead in the third quarter.
“I thought we got comfortable,” said Pierce in the locker room after the game. “I don’t think we played urgency.”
Pierce was eager to get his postgame interview out of the way after the loss, opting to do it before hitting the showers. The usually quiet Wally Szczerbiak also made himself available for questions. Szczerbiak turned the ball over with the Celtics down three in their final possession.
“I just lost the ball,” said Szczerbiak. “It was my bad. It was my fault. I should have known that time was running out.”
Szczerbiak too blamed the loss on the Celtics letting up too soon.
“We built up a lead by playing good basketball,” said Szczerbiak “They took the momentum by being more aggressive than us. When we play tentative teams smell blood and come after us.”
“There were traps that never came,” said Rivers. “Tony Allen fought him and did a great job, and our guys left him out hanging to dry. We could see it happen. We were screaming, and no one helped.”
On the last possession: “We had our chances we just didn’t take it,” said Rivers. “The pass to Sebastian was deflected. The play was a flare to try to get Paul for a three. If he didn’t have it, put it on the floor, drive and find someone else for a three. But when you’re begging for a three at the end of a game you put yourself in a tough position to begin with.”
“We’ve done a great job of closing games out until tonight,” he said. “We made a lot of bad mistakes.”
“I remember Richard (Jefferson) saying we are not going to let this run beat us,” said Nets coach Lawrence Frank. “And Jason (Kidd) did it with his defense. It was important for us to get a win any way possible.”
The Nets were happy to end their six-game losing streak:
“We’ve come too far,” said Vince Carter. “We’ve been playing bad basketball. We want to just change our tune a little bit.”