The Boston Celtics dropped back to .500 on Friday night, losing a wild one in San Antonio by a 96-88 margin.
Playing the first of seven road games over their next eight contests, the C’s tumbled into a hole early, missing 15 of their first 16 shots. They trailed by 24 in the second quarter, but came all the way back and actually held a 7-point lead with 3:21 left in the game. Then, the wheels fell off.
The Spurs scored 15 consecutive points to close it out, with Dejounte Murray scoring eight of his game-high 29 over that span.
It was a stark contrast from earlier in the fourth quarter, with Marcus Smart and Grant Williams contributing hustle plays and Jayson Tatum pulling star duty as Boston broke through for their first lead with 8:17 left. It looked like the Green had authored an inspiring comeback story. But it was not to be.
Murray added 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals to his scoring exploits. Keldon Johnson ripped down 14 boards to go with his 17 points. Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl also posted strong stat lines for the victors.
Boston was paced by Tatum with 24 points (on 23 shots) and 12 rebounds. Jaylen Brown posted 16 points on 16 shots, while Marcus Smart tallied 13 points (on 14 shots), seven rebounds and eight assists. The team made just 37 percent of their field goal attempts overall.
The Celtics scored five consecutive baskets – with Brown sinking three of them – as part of a 19-2 second quarter run to get back into the game and trim San Antonio’s lead to seven. But the Spurs rebounded with a 10-2 run to end the half.
The Green again clipped the deficit to seven to close the third quarter, before making their run to the lead.
Boston’s 10-10 record is good for 10th in a crowded Eastern Conference, where they’re still just three games back of the second-ranked Bulls.
Boston heads north of the border for the first time since Christmas Day of 2019 on Sunday for a matchup with the Toronto Raptors. It’s a 6:00 p.m. tip on 105.7 WROR.
Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.