Despite getting a strong 18-point (7-of-14) shooting night for Gordon Hayward and having Kemba Walker back in the lineup, the Boston Celtics (25-10) lost to the San Antonio Spurs (16-20) 129-114 on Wednesday.

No. 20 found his shooting stroke on his home floor, shooting 50% from the field – including 57% (4 of 7) from beyond the arc. His 18 points led all Boston scorers, and he also added three boards and three assists.

Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart all finished in double figures offensively as well, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win.

As a team, Boston struggled to find their rhythm offensively, putting them in a whole that was too big to overcome. San Antonio got off to a 22-3 lead out of the gate and never looked back. It marked the fourth straight game in which Boston allowed the opposition to take a sizeable lead in the first quarter, and the second straight that resulted in a loss after falling to Washington on Monday night.

As the season progresses, Gordon knows that the team must continue to bring high energy every night and play better defense if they hope to get back to their winning ways.

“They were hitting shots, some of them were well-contested shots, and at the same time we were getting wide-open shots that we were just missing,” said Gordon Hayward, who led the C’s in scoring with 18 points. “But certainly, we have to find a way to bring more energy and be more disruptive, I guess on the defensive end.”

Additionally, Hayward commented that, on nights like tonight, offensive and defensive struggles can go hand-in-hand.

“Sometimes it allows the other team to get into transition and run,” he said of his team’s misses. “That’s the whole point of getting stops is that you can maybe counter on the other and play when the defense isn’t set. I think initially for the most part, they were hitting contested shots, and sometimes when teams are coming on the break at you, they’re moving a little faster, it’s harder to defend, they have some juice, some rhythm, and now we’ve got to go down on the other end when they’re set because they’re scoring, so it definitely compounds.”

On the bright side, the Celtics welcomed back Kemba Walker to the lineup. In his return to action, he notched six points, four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. Although Kemba is happy to be back, he admits he has work to do to return to his playing shape after illness sidelined the star.

Despite their recent losses, the Celtics have a lot to be proud of up to this juncture. In particular, they are 15 games above .500 and third in the Eastern Conference with a solid rookie class and production from their bench – one of the best utilized benches in the NBA. Few other teams can say they are as fortunate.

The C’s will be back at it tomorrow, heading to the City of Brotherly Love to square off against the Sixers (24-14). Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET.