BOSTON (CBS) - Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance on Toucher & Rich Thursday morning.
His Celtics are among the youngest teams in the NBA, and that immaturity really reared its ugly head on Wednesday night in a 110-107 loss at home to Toronto.
It looked like it would be an easy win for the C's early on in the contest, as the Green jumped out to an early 16-point lead in the first quarter. But the Raptors whittled away at the margin, led by Kyle Lowry and his game-high 35 points.
When all was said and done, the Celtics had 28 turnovers en route to their third straight loss.
"There's been moments where it looks like they're really gelling. Last night they came out of the gates and really gelled," Ainge said of his inexperienced squad. "But we have to start gelling down the stretch. We've had the chances to win two more games. Down the stretch of the game, if it's a tie game or within a point, our execution on offense isn't good. We're turning the ball over. The good news is last night we destroyed them on the glass, but the bad news is we made too many turnovers."
The turnover that really sealed their fate came with the score tied at 105 with under a minute to play in the fourth quarter. Rookie Marcus Smart attempted a crossover, but his pocket was picked by Lowry, who fed DeMar DeRozan for a fast-break layup with 33 seconds left. DeRozan was fouled on the play and hit the free throw. Two free throws from Rajon Rondo cut the lead to one, but a fadeaway jumper by Lowry put the nail in the proverbial coffin with eight seconds to play.
The good news, according to Ainge, is that some of these problems are easy to fix.
"I did think [last night] was an aberration. We haven't shown the propensity to turn it over like that throughout the exhibition season or training camp. I don't think Toronto's defense was that stifling to force the turnovers -- a lot of them were just dribbled off our foot. We just seemed to be playing a little bit too fast. We don't have a great half court team. We need to play with pace," said Ainge. "But we're not gonna win many games turning the ball over that much."
Ainge added later on in the interview that head coach Brad Stevens and the rest of the coaching staff have really been preaching a fast-paced offense, because they believe it best suits the strengths of their team.
"[Fast pace] is how we'd like to play. It's personnel also," Ainge said of his roster. "It's something that's been emphasized. Our best shooters are our two big guys and our guards are terrific perimeter defenders."
It's only four games in, but Celtics guard Rajon Rondo is almost averaging a triple double with his 9.3 points per game, 12.5 assists per game and 9 rebounds through the opening slate.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix had an interesting nugget in his latest column, where he wrote, "Several rival executives believe the Lakers will make a strong run at Rondo next summer."
Ainge spoke about that briefly Thursday morning with Toucher & Rich.
"Everybody knows the circumstances of Rajon. We like Rajon. He has the freedom to go anywhere else next summer. We have to make it an attractive place to stay and he has to play well enough for us to pay him. I thought last night was his best game of the season. I loved his energy. I thought he was much more fresh than he was in Texas because he's starting to get his legs under him," said Ainge. "Suffice to say we really like Rondo. We're not gonna negotiate a contract with him in the media."
Listen below for the full interview!
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