Celtics Blog

Final: Thunder 89, Celtics 84

Get Adobe Flash player

On a night when Kevin Durant was sidelined, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook lit up the figurative marquee outside TD Garden. Two of the best point guards in the league lived up to their billing, trading assists for assists and dunks for jumpers.

At the end, only one remained standing, and for the first time all season it wasn’t Rondo. Westbrook’s 31 points and 6 assists lifted an undermanned Oklahoma City team over the Celtics 89-84 Friday night at TD Garden, handing Boston its first home loss. Rondo finished with 14 points, 7 assists, and 4 turnovers, leaving the game early with an injury.

Advertisement:

While the point guard battle was pretty, the rest of the game was ugly. Oklahoma City missed their last 13 shots in the game, while the Celtics missed their last nine. The Thunder won the game despite 20 turnovers.

The game turned for good on a play with 29.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Rondo harassed Westbrook as he dribbled at the top of the key, twice knocking it out of his hands as the shot clock wound down. The defensive pressure was intense, but it wasn’t enough. The ball found its way into the hands of Oklahoma City’s Royal Ivey, who banked in a three-pointer to put the Thunder up 10. It was as deflating as a basketball play can be, 23 seconds of effort undermined by a chance basket.

But the Thunder made their own luck most of the night, harassing the Celtics into 15 turnovers. Westbrook’s dribble penetration created matchup problems and forced the Celtics to foul. The third quarter is usually where close games are won, and tonight was no different. Westbrook had 12 points in the third, and the Thunder attempted 16 free throws in the period. A dunk by Paul Pierce with 7:40 remaining in the third fired up the crowd and got the Celtics back to within six points, but Ivey’s three-pointer took the air right back out of the building.

Advertisement:

Kevin Garnett came out of the game early in the first quarter after taking an elbow to the back of his head. The bump on Garnett’s head could be seen clearly from 30 feet away but did not keep Garnett out of the game, the Celtics big man returning with 8:18 remaining in the second. Garnett had an off night on the glass, finishing with just two rebounds. His replacement, Glen Davis, was just 2 of 10 from the field. After going 5 of 5 in the first half, Shaquille O’Neal scored only one point the rest of the way.

The Celtics are off tomorrow before traveling to Toronto to face the Raptors Sunday afternoon.

Final: Thunder 89, Celtics 84 Can’t ask for much more than that on the final play. Delonte West misses a three in the corner and the Thunder get the rebound and ice it with two free throws. Great play call by Doc Rivers. Pierce had the ball out top and looked for Ray Allen in one corner. Allen, of course, was covered, but West had a good look in the other corner.

13.4 seconds 4th quarter, Thunder 87-84 Ray Allen misses a jumper and Westbrook cans two freebies on the other end. One final chance here for the Celtics.

Advertisement:

38.3 seconds 4th quarter, Thunder 85-84 Delonte West gets the Celtics within one with a pair of free throws, and a defensive stop gives the Celtics a chance to take the lead. Westbrook has 29 points but is 0 for 7 in the 4th quarter.

2:36 4th quarter, Thunder 85-81 Still no Rondo. Delonte West will try to lead the Celtics back over the hump.

6:19 4th quarter, Thunder 83-76 Rajon Rondo picks up a charge, his fifth personal foul. Rondo tried to give it a go but was replaced after one play by Delonte West.

6:52 4th quarter, Thunder 83-76 The Celtics are running out of time to make this a game. Glen Davis (2 of 10) is having his first subpar game of the year.

8:51 4th quarter, Thunder 81-74 The starters are out on both sides, Rondo and Westbrook both resting for one final go. Should be fun.

End 3d quarter, Thunder 77-69 Royal Ivey banks in a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down to end a ridiculous quarter for the Thunder. Oklahoma City goes to the line 16 times. Westbrook had 12 points in the quarter. The third is usually where the game is won. We’ll see if that holds up here.

1:53 3d quarter, Thunder 72-65 Russell Westbrook is torching the Celtics. He’s got 12 points this quarter and has been virtually impossible to stop coming off the pick-and-roll.

7:53 3d quarter, Thunder 61-53 Shaq body checks James Harden into the first row after trying to cover the pick and roll. Foul on Shaq. Thunder are in the bonus for the rest of the quarter.

Advertisement:

10:20 3d quarter, Thunder 54-48 James Harden just Paul Pierced Paul Pierce, up-faking and drawing the foul on the Celtics captain. A three-pointer by Westbrook has this building silent. The first six minutes of this third quarter are huge.

kgbump.jpg

Halftime, Thunder 49-46: Ray Allen missed a three-pointer at the end of the half that would have tied it, and the Celtics head into the break down by three.

Doc Rivers said before the game that he would tell his team they could lose tonight despite the absence of Kevin Durant. The Celtics know the stakes, but they’re not executing so far. The Thunder have 12 turnovers, but they’re shooting 57 percent, a high number for a Boston opponent. Without Durant, the Thunder are an opportunistic basketball team. Dribble penetration has led to open shots for anyone and everyone. Thus far, the Thunder have played better team basketball.

Shaquille O’Neal leads the Celtics with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting. Russell Westbrook has 12 points and 5 assists for Oklahoma City.

4:55 2d quarter, Celtics 39-34 Back-to-back three-pointers by Royal Ivey and Eric Maynor have given the Thunder the lead. OKC is playing tough, scrappy basketball and have the lead despite 11 turnovers. The Thunder are now shooting 64 percent.

For what it’s worth, neither trainer Ed Lacerte nor team doctor Brian McKeon seem the least bit concerned with the knot on KG’s head, despite the fact that it’s visible from where I’m sitting about 30 feet away.

8:18 2d quarter, Celtics 30-29: Kevin Garnett returns to the game with that knot on his head. It isn’t pretty, but KG’s going to give it a go.

Advertisement:

9:16 2d quarter, Celtics 30-27: The Thunder have matched the Celtics with seven turnovers. A bad pass from Russell Westbrook leads to a three-pointer for Delonte West. Chalk it up to aggressive defense more than bad offensive play. This game could be sloppy througout.

End 1st quarter, Thunder 25-23: For the second straight game the Celtics find themselves shooting a ridiculously high percentage without much to show for it. The Celtics have hit on 65-percent of their shots, but 6 turnovers have given the Thunder the lead.

5:38 1st quarter, Celtics 11-8: James Harden leads all scorers with six points, but the Celtics are holding OKC to 38-percent shooting. The Thunder are young and athletic with or without Durant. Expect this to be a good defensive battle.

Kevin Garnett has a huge knot on the back of his head. He came out at the 8:51 mark and has yet to come back in. He’s sitting on the bench with a towel over his head.

10:16 1st quarter, Thunder 4-0: The help comes on Shaq, and O’Neal turns it over with a three-second violation. Good to try to establish Shaq in the minutes he’s in the game, but Celtics can’t force it.

Pregame: No Kevin Durant but still a game to be played. James Harden goes from sixth man to starter. Let’s get it.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com