In their first game since the All-Star break, and more importantly the trade deadline, the Boston Celtics lost to the Sacramento Kings in the Sleep Train Arena, despite an inspired performance from Avery Bradley.
The Celtics jumped out to an early lead, largely on the back of Tyler Zeller, who went 6 of 7 on field goal attempts to start the game. However, the Kings came back with a 17-0 run against the C's ineffectual second unit, finishing the first quarter up by one point, 28-27. After leading at the half, 56-51,
Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley were incredibly effective during the first half, scoring 17 points on 7-9 from the floor and 15 points on 6-10, respectively. Unfortunately, they were the only bright spots for the Green early, as much of the rest of the team struggled to connect from the floor. Despite the Kings inability to hang on to the ball (15 turnovers in the first half), they were able to shoot very effectively, hitting for better than 50% from distance and overall in the first half.
The second half opened with some great defense from the Celtics backcourt. Unfortunately, this was ruined by the inability to make a jumpshot by anyone in green not named Avery Bradley. As the quarter went on, the defense subsided somewhat, but the shooting did not improve to compensate.
With the Kings holding an 8-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, Boston looked to right the ship. Their scoring picked up, and they gradually narrowed the gap. However, the play of Boogie Cousins held strong, as the Kings held on to win, 109-101.
Jared Sullinger's defense was sorely missed, as Demarcus Cousins was able to get whatever he wanted down low. The mercurial young center tallied 31 points and 15 rebounds on 12 of 18 shooting from the floor, going to work against Zeller on the offensive end of the floor and leading his team to its first victory under new head coach George Karl.
The story of night for the Celtics was Avery Bradley, who finished with 28 points on 12-22. The young guard seemed to be making up for the absences of Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, firing away from the floor, and connecting consistently. Unfortunately, the team as a whole shot an uninspired 40% from the floor, and was unable to close the gap late in the game.
Rookie Marcus Smart showed newfound aggression in his first game back from the break, getting to the line 9 times in the night. Unfortunately, he did not have one of his better shooting nights, requiring 15 shots to score his 16 points.