Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 94, Clippers 85
Celtics 94, Clippers 85
Much like Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics took a solid lead into the final minutes of regulation Tuesday morning against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Much like Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics could have given that lead away and suffered another devastating loss to a Staples Center tenant.
They nearly did, but on this night, in the second night of a back-to-back, the Celtics were not giving this win away.
Boston’s seven-point lead with 1:33 remaining was trimmed all the way down to three in less than 34 seconds of game action. This went from a seal-it-with-free-throws type of game to a we-need-a-clutch-basket kind of game for the C’s. Luckily for them, they have plenty of firepower to come through in the clutch.
With Ray Allen temporarily sidelined with a sprained ankle, Boston chose to go to its bread and butter play – the pick-and-roll with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. This time, however, the C’s threw in a wrinkle. Instead of running it at the top of the key, they ran it on the left wing.
Garnett set the screen on Pierce’s defender, Bobby Simmons, and immediately backed L.A’s small forward down to force a defensive switch. Boston now had exactly what it wanted: the 6-foot-11 Garnett posting up on the 6-foot-6 Simmons.
Pierce tossed an entry pass to Garnett and cleared out the left side of the floor to let KG go to work. Garnett backed Simmons down, albeit not as far as one would expect, and tossed up a fade-away, turnaround jumper over the undersized forward from 21 feet out. And it was a no-doubter.
Garnett drilled the shot and gave the Celtics a five-point advantage with 38.4 seconds remaining in the game. It was only two points, but making this contest a two-possession game with less than 40 seconds remaining meant the world to Boston.
Defense and free throw shooting sealed the game from there. The Clippers were unable to put home field goal the rest of the way and Garnett, Pierce and Mickael Pietrus combined to tack on five free throws.
It would have been easy to roll over and cough up a second consecutive game in Staples Center, but the Celtics found a way to avoid disaster. They stepped up at both ends of the floor when they needed it most, and that’s why they’re flying to the Bay Area with smiles on their faces.
Key Box Score Line
Paul Pierce doesn’t have a bad game twice in a row very often. He made sure to avoid that rare occurrence in his hometown of Los Angeles.
After a subpar performance by Pierce on Sunday against the Lakers, the captain bounced back with a huge game against the Clippers on Monday night. He tallied a game-high 25 points thanks to his aggressive offensive play, which led to game highs of eight made free throws and 10 attempted free throws.
Scoring isn’t all he did tonight. For the second consecutive game, Pierce distributed the ball with the most efficiency of any player on the floor. He totaled seven assists in the game, which trailed only Rajon Rondo’s 10. Pierce did also finished with a higher assist-to-turnover ratio than Rondo. He also chipped in three boards during his 31 minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Each team had two players score at least 20 points.
- Boston was led by Paul Pierce's 25 points, while L.A. was led by Blake Griffin's 24 points.
- All five of Boston's starters scored in double-figures, compared to just two for the Clippers.
- L.A. committed 18 turnovers.
- Rajon Rondo dished out a game-high 10 assists.
- Rondo dominated a premier point guard matchup, limiting Chris Paul to 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting to go along with just five assists and four turnovers.
- Mo Williams scored 21 points off the bench while Boston's reserves totaled just 11 points.
- Three of Los Angeles' starters grabbed at least nine rebounds, led by DeAndre Jordan's 13.
- Paul shot 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.
- Griffin, who shot 9-of-15 from the floor, was the only Clippers starter to shoot better than 30 percent.
- Brandon Bass led the Celtics in rebounding with nine boards.
- Both teams made five 3-pointers, but Boston did so on 10 less attempts.
- The Clippers shot just 37.3 percent from the floor.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on what he told his team before tonight's game: "This is lob city and they (the Clippers) enjoy the game. You can see when they play they have a lot of fun and we just had to make this game no fun. We talked about it before the game how this cannot be a joyous occasion and has to be no fun. Our guys went out there and turned the game from a joyous occasion to a competition."