BOSTON (CBS) — As his teammates made their way to the team bus following another disappointing loss, a frustrated Isaiah Thomas sat at his locker.
Thomas was still in full uniform nearly 30 minutes after Boston’s 116-102 loss to the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night, reflecting on the 13-point lead the team let slip away in the second half. It was the Celtics’ second frustrating loss in as many nights, having lost in glorious fashion the night before in Phoenix. The C’s are now 1-2 on their five-game road trip, with the daunting task of visiting the Golden State Warriors next on the docket on Wednesday night.
But Thomas wasn’t thinking ahead in the immediate aftermath of Boston’s latest loss. He was playing out what happened over the final 24 minutes of Tuesday night, when the Clippers exploded for 73 points. That included a 43-14 run, and 41 Los Angeles points in the fourth quarter alone.
Asked what was so frustrating about the loss, Thomas was quick to answer.
“Everything,” he said, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “We should have won this game. We should have won [Sunday] night [in Phoenix]. We can’t be experimenting in Game 63.”
While he was quick to point the finger at Jae Crowder’s inbound pass following Sunday night’s embarrassing loss in Phoenix, Thomas said Monday night’s defeat was a product of everyone.
“It’s just the way we lost tonight was unacceptable. We lost the game in the last 15 minutes of the game. We played a really good game up until the last 15 minutes. And that’s the players’ fault, the coaches’ fault, that’s everybody in this locker room’s fault,” he said. “We could have done a lot better.”
As for that experimenting, the Boston guard is likely referring to the unorthodox small lineup Brad Stevens trotted out late in the third quarter. Without Al Horford (elbow) for the second straight game and Jonas Jerebko (flu), Stevens went with a lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, James Young, Jaylen Brown, and Jordan Mickey, which seems more like a practice lineup than one a team should utilize in an actual game.
With the loss, their fifth in their last eight games, the Celtics lead over the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference shrunk to just 1.5 games. To make the slump even more frustrating, Boston would be just one game behind the East-leading Cavaliers had they not blown their last two games, instead of the three-game hole they currently find themselves in.
But through all the frustration, Thomas knows it isn’t time to panic.
“We’re only three games back. It’s not the end of the season,” he said. “We could go on a five-game winning streak starting next game. You never know. That’s how fast things can change. But we have to figure it out. We will. We can’t panic, but tonight hurt. It hurt me, I know that.”