Keys to the Game: Celtics 113, Clippers 102
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
While dealing with the absences of Al Horford and Marcus Smart, the Celtics were forced to rely on their young guns Wednesday night against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. That proved to be no issue at all, as Boston’s youth stepped up huge during the third quarter to help halt a Clippers rally, before running away with the game.
The Celtics led by 13 points at around the midway point of the third frame, but LA went on a 14-4 run to cut its deficit to three points with 4:30 left in the quarter.
Fortunately, Boston was able to rely on two rookies, a sophomore and a third-year player to help stop the Clippers’ momentum, as Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier all chipped in to help Boston close out the quarter on a 17-6 run.
Brown got the run started with a thunderous slam off of a sweet dish from Kyrie Irving, which gave the Celtics a 76-71 lead at the 4:13 mark of the third quarter.
Rozier would then hit a jumper from the free-throw line, and Ojeleye followed up by knocking down a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Boston’s next seven points came from the free-throw line, as Brown, Rozier and Theis combined to shoot 7-of-8 from the stripe during a span of less than two minutes.
The free-throw line was the only place LA could score during the last four and a half minutes of the third quarter, as Sindarius Thornwell and Lou Williams knocked down six freebies. From the field, however, the Clippers were ice cold during that span. They missed all seven of their field goal attempts during the final 4:30 of the third frame, while also committing three turnovers.
Boston, meanwhile, was knocking down shots all over the court. Terry Rozier capped off Boston’s 17-6 run with a 25-foot 3-point jumper on the Celtics’ last possession of the quarter, which gave them a 91-77 lead heading into the final frame.
Boston continued to run away with the game during the fourth quarter, as it went up by as many as 19 points, before coasting to a 113-102 victory.
Terry Rozier knew that he’d be counted on to carry the Boston’s bench unit Wednesday night, as fellow second-stringer Marcus Smart was sidelined with a hand injury and other fellow reserve Marcus Morris was promoted to the starting lineup to take the place of a resting Al Horford.
The third-year guard not only took on the challenge, but also produced one of his most impressive efforts of the season while doing so.
Rozier, while leading a six-man second unit consisting of four rookies, logged 15 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals during 24 minutes of play. The ball handler did not turn the ball over a single time all game, and committed just one personal foul on the night.
The most impressive part of Rozier’s game, however, was his overall aggressiveness. He fearlessly attacked elite rim-protector DeAndre Jordan all night long, showing an aggressive side that he hadn't displayed much at all over the past month.
Entering Wednesday night, Rozier had not earned a single trip to the free throw line since New Year’s Eve. But he had no issue getting to the stripe against the Clippers, as he was fouled on three drives to basket, which earned him six free-throw attempts. And he sunk them all.
Of all games this season, this was the one that Rozier needed to shine in. He was missing a couple of his top second-unit partners, so he was relied upon heavily to carry the reserves.
Rozier couldn’t have done a much better job accomplishing that, as he led the game with a plus/minus rating of plus-19, while helping the C's snap their four-game losing streak.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving led the Celtics in points (20), assists (seven), and tied for the team lead in rebounds (eight).
- Blake Griffin was the only player who logged more points than Irving. He scored 23.
- Jayson Tatum recorded 18 points, as he sunk seven of his career-high 16 field goal attempts.
- The Celtics shot 14-of-40 (35 percent) from 3-point range.
- The Clippers shot just 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from beyond the arc.
- DeAndre Jordan logged the only double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
- Wesley Johnson blocked four shots. The rest of the Clippers and Celtics blocked four shots combined.
- Boston shot 21-of-22 (95.5 percent) from the free-throw line.
- LA had a 48-28 scoring advantage in the paint.
- The Clippers also had a massive advantage in fast-break points, as they scored 21 to Boston's 10.
- Marcus Morris notched 15 points, while completing his first back-to-back of the season.
- Both benches tallied 39 points.
- The win was Boston's first against the Clippers at Staples Center since March of 2012.
Quote of the Night
We like this feeling better than losing, I will tell you that.
Kyrie Irving on the C's snapping their season-long four-game losing streak.