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Quarter of death: Celtics crumble in final frame vs. Pacers

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The fourth quarter of last night's loss to the Pacers was a microcosm of what still plagues the Celtics: turnovers and the absence of a star.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

If SBNation allowed us to put emojis into our articles, last night's 4th quarter would have been [sad face] [angry face] [crying face] [frustrated face] [barf face].

It started promising enough.  The Celtics started the final twelve minutes down 7, but after a Terry Rozier fast break lay up and a Steph Curry-esque three from R.J. Hunter, the lead was down to two:

This is a bit of a side note, but Hunter and Rozier played 19 and 16 minutes respectively, and when asked why Brad Stevens played his rookies so much in a close game, he simply replied "I trust them." I live in LA and for the last two weeks, sports talk radio has been wall-to-wall coverage about the drama between Byron Scott, D'Angelo Russell, and the #2 pick's playing time.  Silver Screen & Roll is already calling for Byron's head.  As Celtics fans, we need to appreciate the confidence that Stevens has put in all his players, including his first year players.  Hunter's a little farther along than Rozier, but as the season and their development progresses, you'll see these guys getting more and more valuable minutes.

And now, back to the game.  Indiana's lead would accordion back to 8 with a mini-run by the Celtics shrinking it down to a single possession at 3, but stretch back to the eventual deficit of 11.  Boston never seemed into the game even when they were leading just like their road loss to this team a week ago.

It's frustrating because when you look at the Celtics' shot chart in the 4th, they're seemingly getting what they want: shots near the basket and turning long-2's into threes.

Pacers" src="https://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/4258189/Shotchart_1447304068825.0.png" />

The only problem is, they're missing shots.  Boston is 7th in the league at three pointers attempted at 27.1 per game.  Unfortunately, they're 27th in the league at making them with a 28.4% clip.  Against the Pacers, they were 4-for-24 behind the arc, including 1-for-6 in that fatal final frame.

Then there's this from Brad Stevens:

The Celtics did not shoot one free throw in the 4th after shooting a whopping 32 in the first three quarters.  Indiana was daring Boston to shoot mid-range and if they tried to drive, they packed the paint in and forced awkward shots and turnovers.  Here are some of the lowlights from that six-minute stretch of ugliness:

The 4th quarter and this loss is just a reminder of what this team still lacks: a reliable fourth quarter scorer when the game turns into a grind like it did last night.  For the Pacers, that's Paul George.  He hit fade aways, long jumpers, and took it to Marcus Smart to close out the game.  He was a star. So far during this rebuild, the Celtics have prided themselves on not needing a go-to star and being able to find offense from everybody at anytime, but that just wasn't the case late in last night's game.

On the back nine of a back-to-back, the depth of this team and the ball movement didn't help.  It'll be games like this and days like this when news broke that the Sacramento Kings could trade DeMarcus Cousins and that Boston could be a destination because of their wealth of assets when Danny Ainge might consider moves to start consolidating the roster.