The Celtics suffered their worst loss of the season last night under very unlikely circumstances. First, it was to the Bobcats who were only 1-11 on the road. Second, it was at home where the Celts had lost just one other game. The Bobcats played the night before while the Celtics were off since Saturday. And given all that, the Bobcats didn't just squeak by, the won by double digits. Maybe this will compare to the Christmas day massacre back in 1986 when they blew a 25 point lead to the Knicks and went on to lose in OT. That served as a wake up call for the '86 team and it may be a wake up call for this team. To this point the Celtics have been able to come out with poor energy and still pull out a win but last night they were unable to mount any kind of comeback as they seemed out of sync on both ends of the floor.
The Celtics trademark defense was nowhere to be seen last night as the allowed the Bobcats to shoot 49% from the field and were able to only muster up 42% themselves. The Cats seemed to be able to score at will whether it was getting inside for dunks and layups or hitting the open jumper. The Celtics defense seemed totally out of sync. The help defense wasn't there all night and they couldn't defend the pick and roll at all. They were outscored in the paint by a huge margin of 48-28. They were also out rebounded 42-40.
No one outside of KG played really well and KG who finished with 24 points on 8-13 shooting to go with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. But even KG didn't seem to have the energy on the defensive end that he usually has. Pierce had an off night shooting only 4-14 and finishing with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal. His man, Jason Richardson, finished the game with 34 points, although most of those were tough shots with Pierce in his face.
Tony Allen started in place of the injured Ray Allen and was just 1-5 from the field, finishing with 6 points, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. Rondo started off strong, taking blowing past his defender and taking it to the hoop on several possessions but he seemed to lose his aggressiveness in the second half. He finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. Eddie House also seemed to lose his way offensively shooting only 3-10 and scoring 7 points to go with 1 rebound, 2 assists and 1 steal.
Perk finished with 6 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. I have seen comments that he didn't do his job defensively because Mohammed continually got inside for dunks and layups but Perk was one of the few playing good defense. He had to leave his man to help because the rest of the team wasn't keeping their guys in front of them. Pollard finished with 1 rebound and 1 block in just under 10 minutes. Scal got his first real playing time in a long time as he played 14 minutes. He started the game with 2 airballs before hitting a jumper. In the 3rd quarter, he went baseline for a big dunk that should have been the wake up call for this team, but they were so lethargic, nothing could get them going. Scal finished with 4 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. James Posey played fairly well although he also struggled on offense shooting 3-7 and finishing with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.
There is no excusing the Celtics lack of energy and failure to play any facsimile of defense, but they also faced some of the worst officiating I have seen this season and that is saying something because on a whole, the refs have been terrible. The lead official, Ken Mauer, made one terrible call after another. There were a few that stood out and were at crucial times that could have changed the momentum in the game. in the second quarter when the Cats were on their 12-0 run, Rondo drove to the basket for a layup and was called for an offensive foul when the defender stepped in front of him and was clearly still moving. This should have been a 3 point play for the Celtics to stop the Cats run at that point. There were 3 bad calls down the stretch as the Celtics were trying to make a run. In the 4th, Pierce was called for a phantom foul on Richarson. Mauer was right there and the replay clearly showed that there was no contact. Then, a few plays later, he called a foul on Perk for setting a pick where the replay showed no contact. Finally, Posey was called for a travel as he hit a 3 and clearly was fouled on the shot. Like I said, nothing could excuse the Celtics lack of energy and poor play, but if I was the commissioner, I would be checking out Mauer's betting history.
The Celtics play last night can be summarized by two plays. One was at the end of the half. There were 3.2 second left and the Cats inbounded on the baseline after made free throws. Jason Richardson was able to take the ball the full length of the floor for a layup to end the half. Another play was when the Cats made a steal at midcourt and again took it in for an uncontested layup. Tommy was furious at the lack of defense on that play as the Celtics stood around watching him drive in for the layup without even giving chase.
All in all, it was the Celtics worst effort all season. They have had games where their offense was off but their defense was able to keep them in the game but last night, the defensive intensity just wasn't there. Hopefully this will be a wake up call that they can't just sleepwalk through 3 quarters and then turn it on, even against the worst teams because those teams are going to come in with their very best effort to try to knock them off and in some games, the refs are going to help them do it.