Celtics 99, Clippers 92
For six consecutive quarters over Thursday and Saturday night, the Boston Celtics looked sluggish. They finally woke up on Sunday (in the East, anyway) as they took the floor in the third quarter against the Clippers with renewed energy and reclaimed the game to post a 99-92 win at Staples Center.
With Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green making their Celtics debuts, Doc Rivers' Celtics had 11 healthy bodies ready to go against the Clippers. While Rivers would admit after the game that he still has "no idea" how to use Jeff Green yet, Krstic (nine points, six rebounds) wasted little time making his presence felt, grabbing a season-high six offensive rebounds for the Celtics.
Krstic was probably the lone bright spot of the first half for Boston. The C's looked run down and basically sleepwalked through the first two stanzas.
"It was a slow start. They played harder in the first half. They got to all the loose balls," Rivers said. "We joined the game in the third quarter...and we ran. With the bigs we have we can run now."
Paul Pierce credited Rajon Rondo with "changing the pace" of the game in the second half, and the results were obvious. The C's went on a 22-6 run to open the third quarter over the first seven minutes of the half, building themselves a nine-point lead after trailing 47-40 at the break.
Whatever was said in the locker room at halftime, it must have worked. The Celtics never looked back and ended up with a 99-92 victory. And while Blake Griffin was killing the Celtics in the paint in the first half with 11 points and eight rebounds, the Celtics stifled him in the second half and held him to 21 points and 11 rebounds overall.
"He's a terrific player and he's just going to get better," Rivers said of Griffin.
Still an impressive outing for a rookie, but far less output than you might have expected given the gaudy first half numbers.
If there was any sore spot, it had to be the 32 points that Randy Foye hung on the Celtics in the losing effort. Foye was 10-for-20 from the field, hit four 3-pointers and knocked down eight free throws to amass his total scoring output.
Key Box Score Line
Three different Celtics (you know which ones) all took 14 field goal attempts tonight, and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 46 points on 13-for-28 shooting in the contest. But KG came up with another solid game and double-double tonight despite being tasked with trying to slow down rookie sensation in the process.
KG didn't commit a foul in Thursday night's game, and he notched just one personal in Saturday night's contest.
Garnett's work inside, especially in the second half, was impressive, and the Celtics will look for a similar performance from Garnett vs. Griffin when the Clippers return to TD Garden in March.
Box Score Nuggets
- Nenad Krstic notched six offensive rebounds, a Celtics season high, in his debut.
- Paul Pierce scored 11 of his 24 points at the free throw line.
- Rajon Rondo scored just two points but added 11 assists. However, he posted seven turnovers.
- Paul Pierce led Boston with 17 points.
- Four Celtics scored in double-figures.
- 10-day contract Chris Johnson played just 3:31 and registered just one rebound Saturday night.
- The Celtics shot a ridiculous 41 free throw attempts, converting 35 of them. The Clippers shot 17-for-21 from the stripe.
- Jeff Green played 17:50 in his Celtics debut, scoring seven points on 2-for-5 field goals and 3-for-4 FTs.
- Delonte West chipped in nine points and five rebounds as he continues to work his way back into the rotation.
- The Clippers committed 21 turnovers in tonight's contest.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on L.A. Clippers' Blake Griffin: "He's a terrific player and he's just going to get better,"