With five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Boston trailing by four, Jaylen Brown received a kick-out pass from Isaiah Thomas on the right wing, checked his feet and drilled a three to cut the Phoenix Suns’ lead to one.
It was exactly the shot in the arm the Celtics needed. And it seemed like a classic fourth-quarter comeback was in store for Boston.
For a while, it was. But after Thomas split a pair of free throws with under 10 seconds on the clock, Eric Bledsoe took the ball straight to the rim to tie the game up at 106.
With no timeouts left, Jae Crowder was forced to inbound the ball to Thomas—which should have been simple—but the ball trailed off Thomas’s foot right to Suns guard Tyler Ulis.
Ulis dribbled to his right, stepped back behind the three-point line and drilled the game winner over Thomas’s outstretched hand. Final: Suns 109, Celtics 106.
Admittedly, you could see the signs for the Celtics. They had been plagued by turnovers for the entirety of the first half and shot woefully from the field (30.2%). Combine that with Tyler Ulis’s career-high 15 points (finished with 20) in the second quarter alone and the Celtics faced a 49-42 deficit going into the break.
The Celtics were better in the third period. They shot 55% as a team in the frame and were able to cut the Phoenix lead down to just four entering the fourth.
A Terry Rozier (14 points) steal that lead to a Thomas three with about five minutes remaining in the game started to show signs of a comeback, but Ulis had other ideas.
Thomas finished with 35 points on the night.