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While Brad Stevens pulling his starters four minutes into the fourth quarter of a 98-86 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night at TD Garden seemed simply to be a reaction to one of those nights for the Boston Celtics, it runs deeper than that.
So says Celtics elder statesman Al Horford.
One to rarely show concern when things don’t go well for his team, Horford did not go that direction after having a front-row seat and watching the Celtics’ offensive struggles as they fell to 9-7 on the season.
Asked if changes and improvements need to be made, Horford, who scored only seven points and added four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 26 minutes against the Jazz, didn’t hesitate.
“Yes, yes,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “It’s very clear. There’s no way around it, it’s very clear that we’re concerned about shots and our offense.”
The Celtics are averaging 105.4 points per game, tied for 25th in the NBA with another team struggling to find its groove on the offensive end of the floor, the Houston Rockets (8-7).
The veteran big man was not pleased with Stevens’ decision to pretty much run up the white flag with the Celtics facing a 13-point deficit.
“It was frustrating because I wanted to be out there and still fight,” Horford said. “But Coach had a better feel for the game.
“As a competitor, I wanted to stay in and do what I can but he felt like we really weren’t going anywhere and it can’t only be one or two guys doing the things we really have to do and be consistent with it. Tonight, we just weren’t.”
Horford would not reveal what Stevens told the team in the postgame locker room, but it was clear he was upset.
“He wasn’t happy, obviously. I’ll probably just keep that for the locker room. We know what we need to do,” he said. “I feel like last year’s team would have developed that identity. This year, for whatever reason, it’s not happening consistently. It’s something that always needs to be there.
“It’s the Celtic way, the way that you want to play, and the things that you want to do and set the tone, and right now we’re picking our spots where we want to do that.”