Turnovers plague sloppy C's

BOSTON -- By the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 110-107 loss to the Toronto Raptors, even the Boston Celtics seemed amazed by all the different ways they were finding to turn the ball over.

Jeff Green pushed the ball out of bounds coming out of a simple spin move; Marcus Smart got whistled for kicking his legs out and striking his defender during a 3-point attempt; Avery Bradley dribbled the ball off his shoes going to the basket.

The Celtics were tagged with 28 turnovers on Wednesday night. According to Basketball Reference, that's the most turnovers in a game for Boston since Nov. 18, 1989, when the Bird/Parish/McHale Big Three combined for half of the team's giveaways.

“Well, you know we were doing really well as far as [the turnover] category goes coming into this game," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, "and obviously that will flip now."

Indeed, the Celtics were eighth in the NBA with a turnover percentage of 13.3 entering Wednesday's action. That number rocketed to 17 percent after Wednesday's fumblepalooza, dropping Boston to 21st. After finishing last season tied for the third-worst turnover percentage in the league, there's still plenty of room for improvement.

"I thought most of our turnovers were in the halfcourt and late in the clock," Stevens said. "I’d have to go back and watch to say that for sure, but [the Raptors have] active hands in the halfcourt and we didn’t respond as well as we needed to to that. We knew that going in. We talked about it this morning, we talked about it this afternoon, and we talked about the need for really precise execution, and I thought we did that at times and we didn’t at times."

Rajon Rondo and Evan Turner were tagged with a team-high five turnovers apiece, while Smart, Bradley and Green each had four. Jared Sullinger was the only player to log more than six minutes of action without a giveaway. The Raptors were credited with 11 steals, meaning Boston found a way to give the ball away 17 other times.

"Give Toronto credit, some were forced, some weren’t forced, that’s part of the game," Rondo said. "It starts with me, I had five myself and I think I’ve pretty much been averaging five, so I've got to take better care of the ball."

The sloppiness with the ball cost Boston a chance to emerge with a win over a division rival. The Celtics posted a staggering 55-24 advantage in the rebound column, shot better from the floor and still found a way to lose the game. As Raptors coach Dwane Casey noted, "I don't know if I've ever coached a game where we were outrebounded by 31 and still won. I've been coaching 35 years and I've never seen that."

The Raptors finished with only seven turnovers leading to 11 points. Boston's 28 turnovers produced 36 points.

“With 28 turnovers, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot," Kelly Olynyk said. "Teams are going to beat you. But when you look at that, it’s kind of like we just beat ourselves."


Rondo, who quietly produced the 30th triple-double of his career while putting up 13 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, said losses tend to keep him up at nights -- and not just the near-misses like Wednesday's.

"I’m not happy with any losses we have, so this one doesn’t hurt more than the next one," Rondo said. "A loss is a loss. Me, personally, I’ve been disappointed the last three games. I don’t sleep well on losses. I play the game over and over. But the best thing about it is, we have a short turnaround and we play [Indiana] in a couple days. That’s the best thing about the NBA."

Rondo wasn't the only Celtics player with a quality stat line in a losing effort. Green had a team-high 20 points, Sullinger (19 points, 16 rebounds) and Olynyk (18 points, 13 rebounds) had double-doubles, and Boston put six players in double figures for scoring.

“I want all 14 of our guys to have great nights, but there’s only one stat that ultimately matters," Stevens said.