The Celtics finished at 38 percent shooting for the game with 19 turnovers, more than four above their average, while falling to 14-5 since All-Star Rajon Rondo’s season-ending knee injury.
“We’re showing that we can compete against pretty much anyone, but we have to bring our A-game most of the time, and that involves not turning the ball over and not fouling as much,” said Pierce, who needs 10 points to pass Charles Barkley for 20th on the NBA’s career scoring list.
It was the third-lowest scoring total of the season for Oklahoma City, which had 84 in its season-opening loss at San Antonio and 87 in a win at Portland in January. Boston even managed to outscore the youthful Thunder 11-8 on the fast break, but that slower pace still wasn’t effective.
“This is what I like being a part of. All of that up and down fast pace, I kind of like the ‘slow down, let’s bump a little bit’ type of game,” Perkins said.
“Either way, it’s all good.”
Jeff Green had a right-handed, reverse dunk as Boston closed the third quarter with six straight points and get within three. But the Thunder answered right back to start the fourth.
Backup point guard Reggie Jackson, who played at Boston College, got a running flip to go in and followed that with a double-clutch jumper from the right wing at the shot-clock buzzer.
When Jackson missed a more conventional shot, Nick Collison grabbed the offensive rebound and found a cutting Kevin Martin for a layup that turned into a three-point play and a 79-67 lead with 8:36 remaining.
“I was pretty upset with myself that it even came down to those type of shots, but I’ll take them,” Jackson said. “I guess I’ll take them.”