Rapid reaction: Bucks 99, Celtics 88

Mark L. Baer/US Presswire

Courtney Lee and the Celtics got off to a slow start against the Bucks.BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics 99-88 on Friday night at TD Garden:


Break out your panic meters (OK, that's premature, but some will). It's one thing to lose to the defending world champs down in South Beach, but it's another for the unheralded Bucks to crash the home opener and emerge with a lopsided triumph. This one was never close, and Boston waived the white flag with rookie Kris Joseph on the floor with the Celtics down 20 with 2:37 to go. Kevin Garnett scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter, but Boston never got closer than 11 after the intermission (and only because of a late barrage of 3-pointers from Jason Terry, who was scoreless over the game's first 42 minutes but finished with 10 points). Rajon Rondo chipped in 14 points and 11 assists over 41 minutes, while Paul Pierce (11 points on 3-of-11 shooting), Brandon Bass (10) and Jeff Green (11) were in double figures for points for the Celtics. Brandon Jennings scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting while adding 13 assists and outplayed counterpart Rondo. Tobias Harris chipped in 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting for Milwaukee.


The Celtics trailed by seven after the first quarter and seemed lifeless. Turnovers (18 leading to 19 points on the night) and defensive indifference allowed Milwaukee to push its lead to 18 with 3:15 to go in the first half. The Bucks never looked back.


Pierce picked up two early fouls, including a charge that sent him to the bench with 6:06 to play in the first quarter. Pierce came back at 8:44 of the second frame, only to pick up his third foul when he knocked down Jennings taking (and making) a 3-pointer with 4:47 remaining in the half. Pierce was 0-for-4 with two points at the intermission.


The Celtics mustered a mere 30 first-half points while shooting 27.3 percent from the floor (12-of-39 overall) and were serenaded with some boos from the Garden faithful as they walked off the court at halftime on opening night. Those boo birds returned in the second half as Boston never put together a true charge.


Celtics coach Doc Rivers preached patience, and Boston clearly is still ironing out the wrinkles from all the offseason additions. There's little time to dwell on this one, as the Celtics travel to Washington for the tail end of a back-to-back Saturday against the Wizards. Boston is 0-2 and it's probably no reason to panic, but for a team that preached starting strong, it's a disappointing start to the 2012-13 campaign.