By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Staving off a late rally, the Boston Celtics hung on for a 108-100 win over Oklahoma City on Friday night. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Aided by a 9-0 run, OKC cut Boston’s lead to three with just under two minutes left. And the Thunder had a chance to tighten it up further. But Kevin Durant missed a game-tying triple, Kevin Garnett sank a couple free throws and OKC’s slim hopes permanently dimmed.
It was over when…
…Rajon Rondo shoveled his 16th assist over to Jason Terry, who drilled a dagger three with 36 seconds left. He doesn’t pass, he doesn’t rebound and he doesn’t block shots. But Terry loves to take and make big shots, something the Thunder know all too well. And he did it again Friday night.
Star of the game – Rajon Rondo
As Rajon Rondo goes, so go the Celtics (sound familiar Westbrook/Thunder fans?). And on this night, Boston’s volatile point guard displayed his unique talents in a good way, dictating the game from start to finish. He ran the offense crisply, got the ball to his playmakers and was safe with the ball (only two turnovers). Not many players can dominate the game scoring only six points on five shots. Rondo’s one of them.
Rising – Serge Ibaka’s rebounding
That’s two straight double-digit rebounding games for Serge Ibaka. He had 12 against the Clippers on Wednesday and a season-high 13 against the Celtics Friday. Before that two-game stretch, he hadn’t reached double-digits once in the season’s first 11 games.
Falling – Kevin Martin’s usage and production
You knew Kevin Martin’s overall production was going to drop at some point. He entered the game shooting 49 percent overall and 54 percent from three. In his career, he’s only 44 percent from the floor and 38 percent from downtown. So Friday’s off-night (1-7 overall, 0-2 from deep) can be shoved aside as a brief and expected slump. But the more concerning part was how little he was used. Various times, Russell Westbrook and, to a lesser extent, KD looked off Martin on a clean look to take a contested jumper or layup. Chalk it up to ongoing chemistry tweaks. But keep an eye on it moving forward.
Oklahoma City entered the game shooting an NBA-best 44 percent from three-point range. On Friday night, the Thunder shot 25 percent, going 6-24 from deep. Sometimes they just don’t fall. And in a tight game, that was likely the difference.
Thabo Sefolosha has hit a three in five consecutive games, the longest streak of his career. Overall, he’s 9-19 over that time, providing OKC with a consistent long-range stroke.
The Thunder’s bench was outscored 35-13 by Boston’s much-maligned second-unit. Darnell’s thoughts:
“Jeff Green came in and had a big impact on the game. I love him and it was good to see. But I wish it happened against Orlando on Sunday night.” –Scott Brooks on his former player, who had 17 huge points for Boston off the bench.
Video of the game
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It’s back-to-back on the East Coast for the Thunder, traveling to Philadelphia for a Saturday night game to wrap up a brief two-game road trip. The Sixers don’t have Andrew Bynum, but they’re playing pretty good basketball, winners of three of the past four.