|CLIPPERS LOSE SECOND IN A ROW AT HOME AS CELTICS COME BACK IN SECOND HALF - ERIC PATTEN @ericpatten|
LOS ANGELES–It was a game that two teams with championship aspirations needed.
And when the Clippers and Celtics squared off in what amounted to a topsy-turvy playoff-like matchup Monday night at Staples Center, it was Boston that strung together one more run than the host Clippers to pull out a 94-85 victory.
For much of the game, the teams exchanged scoring droughts and outbursts. The Clippers (23-17) led by nine at halftime thanks to a 27-14 second quarter. The Celtics (22-19) opened the third with a 15-2 stretch, only to have L.A. answer with a flurry of its own to take a four-point lead after Bobby Simmons drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner with 4:24 remaining.
Boston, though, closed with another spurt, outscoring the Clippers, 20-7, sending L.A. to its fifth loss in seven games.
Difference Maker: Kevin Garnett. The future Hall of Famer scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds. And with the Celtics leading by three in the final minute, he knocked down a 21-foot turnaround jumper with 24 seconds remaining to stifle a final Clipper comeback attempt.
Turning Point: Celtics head coach Doc Rivers called timeout after Bobby Simmons nailed a corner 3-pointer that put the Clippers up 78-74. The Celtics put together a 13-2 run capped by a layup in transition by Mickael Pietrus to put Boston up 87-80.
Stat Line of the Night: DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers’ center took his matchup with Garnett and the undersized Celtics frontline personal, battling for 13 rebounds in three quarters, including a team season-high eight on the offensive glass. He also added six points, a steal and a blocked shot where he caught a Rajon Rondo layup with two hands. Despite his effort on the boards and staying out of foul trouble, Jordan played just 22 minutes as Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro decided to play Blake Griffin at center with Bobby Simmons next to him to help open up the court.
“When they [Boston] went small in the second half it was hard because we were struggling to score, so the penetration [by spreading the floor with shooters] I thought would help us,” Del Negro said.
More Stats: Blake Griffin scored 24 points with nine rebounds, four assists and made six of his eight free throws. As usual, the league leader in dunks, had a number of impressive throw downs, including a reverse slam on a lob from Mo Williams in the second quarter. On the play, Griffin spun off Celtics backup big man Greg Stiemsma, caught the ball at the front of the rim and dunked it with back to the basket.
Paul Pierce, who struggled from the floor on Sunday against the Lakers, responded with a game-high 25 points with seven assists and knocked down a key 3-pointer during a 9-0 Celtics outburst late in the fourth quarter.
Rajon Rondo had 12 points, 10 assists, three steals, and six turnovers in a somewhat subdued game for the All-Star point guard. He also made all four of his free throw attempts.
Mo Williams scored 21 points off the bench with four assists and four steals. He led a personal 7-0 run to help the Clippers stay in the game during a poor shooting third quarter. The only downside, Williams made just one of his eight shots from long range.
Hot: Brandon Bass. The Celtics power forward hit five of his six shots from the field, including his favorite mid range jumper from the elbow. He also grabbed nine rebounds and defended Griffin well for stretches despite fouling out with 4:57 left in the game.
Not: Chris Paul. In his second game with a protective facemask, Paul struggled from the floor, going 3-for-12 for 14 points in 41 minutes. He had five assists and four turnovers and was relegated to an uncharacteristic amount of dribbling on the perimeter by a Celtics defense that overloaded to prevent him from making plays.
On Garnett’s shot with 24 seconds left:
Vinny Del Negro: “We knew that they were going to go to Pierce in the isolation and we talked about maybe putting a little bit more size out there, but we felt like those guys were in the rhythm of the game and they felt it. And I knew we’d switch off on the screen. I thought we’d trap and full rotate over and hopefully not get the ball back to KG, and try to deny him back. I mean, Kevin hit about a [21-foot] fade away, so it was a heck of a shot.”
On defending the Clippers:
Doc Rivers: “This is lob city and they 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.”
On Clippers’ defense:
Mo Williams: “We’re still trying to figure it out, so it’s a work in progress. We’re just searching, looking for every part of the game to come together. The fourth quarter is all about getting stops.”
On adjusting to the absence of Chauncey Billups:
Chris Paul: “It’s not an adjustment now, it’s been long enough. I love Chauncey to death, but he’s not going to come through those doors any time soon in a uniform.”
Notes: Garnett moved into 11th place on the all-time list for number of minutes played (45.074), passing Moses Malone… The Clippers grabbed a season-high 20 offensive boards. They out-rebounded the Celtics 45 to 31 overall… It was the first time this season the Clippers lost both ends of a back-to-back. On Wednesday they try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season… Kenyon Martin, who had missed the previous two games with sore ribs, played 10 scoreless minutes.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Back to Top