It was the Boston Celtics' fifth straight loss, but Doc Rivers stared into the abyss and saw a stream of light.
On the road to falling 119-104 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, the Celtics surrendered a 30-3 run in the first half and allowed 72 points by halftime. They fell behind by as many as 27 points and dropped two games below .500. But Rivers appreciated that his team never quit.
The Celtics clawed their way back into the game and might have escaped with a win if it weren't for a few late turnovers.
"I loved the way our guys competed. That's a group, you'd say, 'Oh, I'd coach them all day,'" Rivers said during an interview with CSNNE.
"I just loved the spirit," he added. "I told them after the game, if we play like that in the second half of the season healthy, it's going to be tough to beat us, anybody."
Perhaps so, but the All-Star break could not have arrived at a better time for the Celtics.