The Celtics got some St Patrick's Day luck as they finally ended an 18 game losing streak to the Spurs that dated back to January 8, 1997. Tim Duncan had never lost to the Celtics and Paul Pierce had never beaten the Spurs. But that all ended with a 91-85 win over the Spurs in San Antonio tonight.
The Celtics led by as many as 19 and led for most of the game but in the 4th quarter the Spurs went on a run and took the lead briefly before Pierce hit a couple of big shots and Green went in for a fast break dunk to give the Celtics a lead for good. Even when the Spurs made their run, the Celtics kept their composure and didn't give up. They played well on both ends of the floor and showed that they are a much better team than their record.
Rondo played incredibly well tonight. He scored only 2 points but had 14 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal and only 1 turnover in 34 minutes of play. He did a great job defending against Parker as well. But for some reason, in spite of his great play, Doc didn't play him down the stretch and that is when the Spurs made their run. Rondo deserved to play down the stretch and it had to be a blow to his psyche to have to sit after playing so well early. Delonte also played very well with 23 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and only 1 turnover in 45 minutes. He had problems staying with Parker on defense, though. Telfair notched another DNP.
Allan Ray played 20 minutes and didn't score but had 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Doc kept Ray on the floor during crunch time. Green played 12 minutes and only took one shot. He got ahead of the defense on a fast break for a two handed dunk. He also pulled down 1 rebound and had 1 assist. Pierce hit a couple of huge shots down the stretch to assure the win. He finished with 30 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. There was a scare in the 4th quarter when Pierce was scrambling for a loose ball and was lying on the floor holding his knee. Thankfully he was fine but it was scary for a few minutes.
Perk got into early foul trouble and played only 16 minutes but finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. Doc went with small ball down the stretch with Al being the only big on the floor. This is what allowed Duncan to come up big in the 4th quarter. Al was again a monster inside and finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. Powe played only 4 minutes and had 2 points and 1 rebound. Kandi came in for Perk and did a good job with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 22 minutes.
We won tonight in spite of Doc's coaching, not because of it. If Doc had played Rondo and Perk in the 4th quarter, it wouldn't have been near as close. When he went to small ball and put West on Parker and left Al as the only big, both Duncan and Parker were able to get inside and that allowed them to erase the lead that we had built. I love this team and can't help but wonder what they could do with a better coach.
Inspite of playing in the second of back to back games on the road, and in spite of some terrible officiating, the Celtics finally got the gorilla off their backs and won in San Antonio. I have to say that I really don't want to trade any of these kids. I'd love to keep this group together and see what they can do next season. Things are coming together and they are playing some exciting ball in spite of still having injuries plaguing several players. Maybe the Luck of the Irish is indeed back in Boston.