Celtics drop home opener to Bucks
BOSTON — Brad Stevens was excited before his home opener on Friday night as Boston Celtics coach, ready to see what his team would look like playing for the first time in front of the home crowd.
But the Milwaukee Bucks, who were down 22 points in the first half, spoiled the night, roaring from behind for a 105-98 victory that gave Larry Drew his first win in two games as Milwaukee coach.
The Bucks ended the game with a 17-5 run in the final 4:28, including a 10-0 burst that sent the home crowd home disappointed.The injury-depleted Bucks won the game with their bench. Zaza Pachulia scored 20 points — six in the final 43.5 seconds — and had nine rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes to lead the way.
Rookie Nate Wolters and John Henson (nine rebounds) had 14 points apiece and fellow sub Khris Middleton added 13 points. Gary Neal was the only starter in double figures with 14 points.
The Celtics, who lost their opener on Wednesday night in Toronto, trailed only 2-0 and 2-1 before a 16-2 first-quarter run quickly put them in control. They were still up by 17 with a minute left in the third quarter.
But Boston converted only three baskets in the third quarter and four in the fourth, going 7 of 33 from the floor in the second half.
Instant fan favorite Vitor Faverani, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound Brazilian import who had 13 points and three rebounds in the opener, finished with 12 points, 18 rebounds and six blocked shots in 37 minutes.
Brandon Bass had 17 points and six rebounds, Gerald Wallace 14 points, including a big 3-pointer late, and Jeff Green added 13 points in the loss.
Guard Avery Bradley, injured in a collision with Kyle Lowry in Toronto, started and played 32 minutes but was in foul trouble and fouled out late.
The Celtics went 27 of 43 from the floor in the first half, leading by as many as 18 points and by 16 at the break. Neal did score 11 straight points for his team to help cut Boston’s lead to eighth with 7:29 left in the half, but the Celtics went on a 9-2 run to re-establish control.Notes: Stevens attended the unveiling of the Bill Russell statue at City Hall on Friday. Russell was also honored at the end of the first quarter on Friday night, receiving a lengthy ovation. NBA commissioner David Stern and his Feb. 1 replacement Adam Silver were also at the event and then at the game. ... The World Series-champion Red Sox were honored with a pregame video tribute, followed by the Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner bringing the trophy onto the court. Injured G Rajon Rondo, wearing a fake beard to honor the Red Sox, welcomed the crowd to the game. ... The Bucks were missing G Brandon Knight (hamstring) and G Luke Ridnour (back); as well as G/F Carlos Delfino and F Ekpe Udoh (offseason surgeries). ... Celtics F Jared Sullinger returned from his one-game team suspension resulting from his offseason domestic violence arrest (charges recently dropped after his girlfriend refused to testify under her fifth amendment rights). ... The Bucks are home to Toronto on Saturday night and the Celtics open a two-game road swing at Detroit on Sunday.