Five Takeaways: Celtics Live Behind The Arc In Clippers Loss
BOSTON – It was all about Paul Pierce at TD Garden, where the Celtics legend played in his final game in Boston, which ended in a 107-102 loss Sunday afternoon after a late Clippers (31-20) comeback fell short.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 107-102 defeat against the Celtics (33-18).
Quote of the Night: “I’ve never felt anything like this. I truly appreciate my time here, I truly appreciate tonight. Fans really showered me with a lot of love.” – Paul Pierce
1) Pierce starts, finishes in emotional final trip to Boston – Paul Pierce took the court for the first time as an NBA player Feb. 5, 1999, in Boston. Nineteen years to the day, he did so again in Boston for the final time as a player. Pierce knew his trip to Boston, where he spent 15 seasons and won a championship, would be an emotional one. He just didn’t know if it would be more smiles or tears; it turned out to be both.
As a three-minute video tribute wrapped up after the first timeout, the camera cut to an emotional Pierce as a standing ovation continued. Even after the timeout ended, the chants continued for him throughout the night. It seemed Pierce would only played the first five minutes of the game, which still would’ve been an experience he’ll never forget, but with the game out of reach in the final seconds, Pierce went back in and hit his final 3-pointer at TD Garden to a roar of applause from the Celtics’ fans.
2) Celtics live behind the arc– By the end of the third quarter, the Celtics already launched 42 3-point attempts, the most the Clippers have allowed in any game this season. While Boston only made 14 at the time, that was still a significant part in the Clippers trailing the majority of the night.
Often, the Celtics were making the extra pass looking for the best 3-point opportunity, and every Boston player who entered the game took at least two 3-point attempts. Every Celtics player who entered the game took at least two 3-point attempts. Al Horford’s third 3-pointer of the game at the 5:12 mark doubled up the Celtics’ 3-point makes (16) on the Clippers (eight) and putting Boston ahead by 14 points. Boston finished the day with 52 3-point attempts – 12 more than any Clippers opponent this year.
3) Clippers get to line late – The Clippers only shot 41.7 percent, and for three quarters, they couldn’t get any extra help at the line. They’d taken just six free throws, making half of them, when they started attacking and drawing contact, simultaneously working their way back into the game. The Clippers finished 22-of-28 from the line, with 22 of their 28 free-throw attempts coming in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for Clippers, it was two free throws at the other end that might’ve mattered most. As the Clippers cut the deficit to four points in the final minute of the fourth quarter – the closest they had been in the second half – they were whistled for a foul on an Isaiah Thomas drive with 30 seconds left. That put the Celtics’ lead at a relatively insurmountable six points. Blake Griffin, who finished with 23 points, missed at the other end, essentially putting the game away. That’s when Rivers gave Pierce his final sendoff.
4) More early turnovers – Eight turnovers in the first half led to 14 points the other way for the Celtics, allowing Boston to build an early first-half lead. One of those turnovers occurred as DeAndre Jordan thought he was fouled trying to pass to Blake Griffin off a rebound. The deflection led to a turnover, which the Celtics capitalized on with an Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer. That sparked an 11-2 Boston run, and suddenly a Clippers deficit they cut from 15 down to two ballooned back up again.
5) Backup guard boost – Head coach Doc Rivers called Raymond Felton a “Godsend” before the Clippers’ last game, and before Sunday’s matchup he praised Felton’s ability to stay on the court despite dealing with a variety of ailments, namely a banged up right shoulder. Felton fought through the pain again Sunday, pouring in 16 points off the bench, while Jamal Crawford added a team-high 21 points off the bench. Felton and Crawford each knocked down three 3-pointers, though the Clippers’ starting guard tandem of Austin Rivers and J.J. Redick struggled from the field, going a combined 3-for-17 with 11 points.
What’s Next? – The Clippers play the second game of a back-to-back Monday night in Toronto.