BOSTON – Home has been anything but sweet for the Boston Celtics whose play in front of their own fans continues to be underwhelming.
The latest stinker came on Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder (18-12) who pulled away in the second half as they handed the Celtics a 117-112 loss.
Boston had multiple chances in the closing minutes to take the lead, only to squander them at every turn.
- Highlights: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Boston Celtics 112
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- Stars, studs and duds: Celtics were 'ready to battle' in loss to Thunder
A Celtics turnover led to a potential 3-point play for Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook with 1:36 to play. He would finish with his first triple-double against the Celtics, tallying 45 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. The 45 points scored by Westbrook were the most scored against the Celtics this season.
Westbrook missed the free throw, but the Celtics were still looking at a 107-104 deficit.
The hole got a little deeper after Westbrook drained another 3-pointer, only for Thomas to come back with an old fashioned 3-point play that made it a one-possession game again.
Westbrook struck again with a tightly contested 3-pointer that seemed to be the final dagger with the Thunder’s control of the game no longer an issue.
And with the loss, Boston (17-13) saw its season-best winning streak of four games come to an end.
Just as significant, the loss dropped Boston to 6-6 at home this season which is the worst home record for any team that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Certainly the caliber of opponents is a factor.
But more than anything else, the Celtics don’t play with the same level of urgency and focus that we’ve seen from them on the road this season for long enough stretches.
Players know about it.
So do the coaches.
But acting on that knowledge in a productive manner like, you know, winning a few more games at home, has continued to be something that has eluded this team this season.
And the biggest concern Boston had going into the game – Russell Westbrook going off along with at least one of his teammates – became the Celtics’ reality.
Westbrook, the lone NBA player averaging a triple-double this season, was two rebounds shy (25 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) after three quarters of play.
But he wasn’t the only Thunder player giving the Celtics major problems.
Rookie forward Domantas Sabonis made his first seven shots from the field and finished with 20 points which included four 3-pointers.
Oklahoma City also got strong play around the rim from Enes Kanter who came off the bench to score 20 points.
For Boston, Isaiah Thomas had 34, with Al Horford (23 points), Amir Johnson (17 points) and Avery Bradley (16 points) also playing well for the Celtics.