Unfortunately, fans have grown used to seeing their team blow double-digit leads in the second half, it’s happened too many times throughout the regular season, 20 games in. However, when Robert Williams checked in for Tristan Thompson at the 2:58 mark of the third quarter, Tristan wouldn’t see the floor until the final seconds of the game and that was puzzling, for some, to say the least.
After scoring a season-high 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, Thompson was reinserted into the game for offensive rebounding purposes. With 7.4 seconds left, the Celtics’ final play of the night was Jayson Tatum’s potential game-tying 3-pointer.
It misfired from the corner before Kings guard Buddy Hield pulled down the defensive rebound and was intentionally fouled with only 0.6 left on the game clock. Hield drained a pair of free-throws that crystalized a 116-111 Kings win.
Brad Stevens On Tristan Thompson’s Fourth-Quarter Benching: ‘I Thought Rob Was Playing Well’
Stevens was asked about his decision to sit Thompson throughout most of the fourth quarter, following the loss.
“They were small most of that time,” Stevens said. “I thought Rob (Williams) was playing well in his stint, he was giving us a lot at the rim. They were spreading us out more and so it was just a decision to go back with (Daniel) Theis at the end of the game. We made some good plays at the end of the game but we have three very solid good players at that spot so there’s going to be decisions to make each time.
But, I thought the double-big lineup, when they went double-big; was pretty effective tonight.”
Thompson’s play is certainly one of the very few bright takeaways for Boston. And despite being a team that’s only slightly over .500 (11-9), the Celtics have been making improvements on the defensive end of the floor; they just haven’t been able to keep it together for the course of an entire game.
For Tristan, it comes down to effort. He saw a lot of that Wednesday; but unfortunately, it was coming from the opposing team. Highlighting a memorable miscue by the Celtics that happened at the end of the third quarter with only a few seconds left to play, Thompson used a great example of how Boston continued giving up easy scoring opportunities.
After Javonte Green slammed home a dunk, there was enough time for the Kings to make an entry pass that traveled the length of the court and found the hands of rookie Tyrese Haliburton for a quick layup.
“Things like that, those hustle plays and those 50-50 plays, that turns out to win games,” Thompson explained after the Celtics loss. “So, if we could take away those 50-50 plays and have them be on our side, we win the ball game. So, little plays like that, especially, on the road, on the West coast trip; you’ve got to capitalize on those 50-50 plays because you’re going to need them down the stretch over the last two minutes to win a ball game.”
Tristan Thompson On 2020-21 Celtics: ‘We’re Making Progress’
Still, Tristan believes the Celtics are already on the road to redeeming themselves and that progression is already beginning to form.
“I think we’re making progress,” Thompson said. “I think we’re showing at times how very good defensively we can be and offensively, as long as we keep moving the ball and sharing the ball, everyone will get the right looks. And that’s the key on offense but defensively, we’re showing it at times but we’ve gotta do it for a full 48. We can’t have mental lapses or not know player personnel or fall asleep, and we’re all at fault.
“But, I make mistakes defensively, other guys do, we’ve just gotta make sure we limit those mistakes so that they don’t come back and bite us in the ass in the fourth quarter.”