The reminder Sacramento gave Celtics on Sunday

Nick Friar
November 18, 2019 - 10:32 am
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The Celtics have been great late in games. Kemba Walker has come up big in the fourth quarter on more than one occasion. Jayson Tatum had his big shot against the Knicks earlier in the season and shot well in the fourth (10 points on 4-for-7 shooting) against the Kings on Sunday.

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But the Celtics won’t be able to mount comebacks every night, as was the case in the 100-99 loss to Sacramento. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' loss, click here.)

The Kings outscored the Celtics in two quarters: the first and the fourth. Of course, Boston can’t be expected to win every quarter. They also can’t expect to win when they’re losing by 12 after the first.

Sure, they mounted a comeback and only lost by one point after Marcus Smart didn’t get the roll on his floater in the final seconds of the game. But Sacramento’s early lead set the tone for Boston the rest of the way. The Celtics were constantly playing catch-up.

“What lost us the game is the early start,” Smart told reporters. “For me and everybody else in the starting unit, we allowed those guys to get very, very comfortable.

“We got to do a better job of preparing and being ready. We can’t come off and start the game like we did.”

While Boston’s starters allowed the Kings too many quality scoring opportunities in the first, the Celtics didn’t respond well on offense either. Smart started the game 1-for-5. Tatum only took two shots in the opening quarter. Jaylen Brown went 2-for-2 from three, but he also had two of the Celtics’ six first-quarter turnovers.

“(With) both of the last two teams that we’ve played, they came out with high energy and we didn’t match their energy,” Brown said. “If we don’t, we got to make sure we (are) mentally sound and start being in the right spots, taking care of the basketball, making the right reads, making the right plays. Because if not, those teams that start off well, they (are) going to build confidence throughout the game. So, we got to be even better to start the game to make sure that the game materializes how we want it to.”

If it wasn’t for the Celtics bench, the starters wouldn’t have had a chance to win it in the fourth. Out of nowhere, Semi Ojeyele turned into the Celtics’ second-best 3-point shooter on the floor (3-for-4 from three, 4-for-5 overall for 11 points). Enes Kanter provided some offense, too (10 points), but his larger contribution was the fact he disrupted shots at the rim well — especially as the game progressed. The only problem was no one else on the Celtics crashed the boards, giving the Kings easy putback opportunities.

“Our starters haven’t started games well the last two games,” Brad Stevens said. “We’ve gotten a lot out of that (second) group. We’d been behind 30-(18) today, something like that one Friday. I thought that group gave us a huge lift. I think Brad (Wanamaker) and Semi were excellent. And I thought Kaner gave us good minutes. So, I thought there (were) a lot of positives on the bench. That’s encouraging.”

Daniel Theis finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, logging his first double-double of 2019-20. It’s the fourth double-double of his NBA career. His last double-double came against the Bulls in December of last season. He now has two double-doubles against the Kings in his career, as well as two against Chicago.