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Recap: Celtics shoulda, coulda but don’t beat the Spurs

RRSpursThat was one helluva frustrating loss. The Celtics scratched and clawed their way back from an early 17 point deficit, but lost when a Paul Pierce jumper rimmed out at the buzzer.

Donny Marshall was annoyed that Pierce (15 points, 10 rebounds) didn't drive to the basket on the final possession. Despite being covered by the aging Tim Duncan, I didn't see much of an opening for Pierce. He opted for his patented step-back jumper and it didn't fall. A couple things to keep in mind – the Spurs had a foul to give. And if Pierce was able to get to the hoop, the refs – who called only 20 fouls all night – may have swallowed the whistles.

The sequence that killed the Celtics started with 1:32 left in the 4th. Trailing 85-83, Kevin Garnett had a terrible turnover while trying to get the ball to Pierce. The Spurs had a rollercoaster possession that ended with a back-breaking jumper by Matt Bonner. 

If your pulse wasn't racing in the 2nd half, you need to see a doctor. The Celtics blew many, many opportunties to take the lead. 

The Spurs second unit outscored Boston's second unit 44-24. They also dominated on the boards, 53-29. This game was also lost on the free throw line. The Spurs were 8-11, Boston 6-13.

Despite being demoted to the second unit [sarcasm], Avery Bradley played another superb game – 19 points, 9-16 FG and some tenacious defense. When the media asked Gregg Popovich about Bradley after the game, the Spurs coach said, "He's a pain in the ass."

Ray Allen struggled offensively (5 points, 2-6 FG), but nailed a HUGE three pointer with 39 seconds remaining.

The Rondo train keeps rolling along: 17 points, 11 assists and 4 steals in 44 minutes.

Box score | Recap

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)