The Boston Celtics had plenty of chances in the third quarter to put away the Los Angeles Clippers, but they couldn’t do it, and L.A. stole the game as a result.
The Clippers went on a crazy run from the last half of the third quarter through the first half of the fourth quarter to erase Boston’s lead and cruise to a comfortable 116-102 win Monday night at Staples Center.
L.A. outscored Boston 73-56 in the second half. The Celtics’ defense, which was so good for most of the game, fell apart when it mattered most.
The C’s drop to 40-24 with the defeat, while the Clippers improve to 38-25.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jae Crowder
C: Amir Johnson
Al Horford and Jonas Jerebko didn’t play. However, Horford appears to be progressing well.
The Celtics led the Clippers 25-22 after the first quarter. They were paced by Thomas’ 10 points and some very good defense, as seen in the clip below.
Amir Johnson also played well over the first 12 minutes with five points, two steals and a block.
L.A. didn’t help itself by going 2-for-7 from the free-throw line in the quarter.
TRIBUTE FOR “THE TRUTH”
The Clippers played a video tribute for the soon-to-be-retired Paul Pierce, which included congratulatory remarks from his former and current teammates and coaches. It was a nice touch, and the many Celtics fans in attendance probably enjoyed it very much.
JUST GET THE JOB DONE
The Celtics led 46-43 at halftime, but they didn’t play the most beautiful basketball to get there. Boston missed 18 3-point shots and missed 30 shots overall through the first 24 minutes. The Celtics’ defense made up for it, though, holding the Clippers to 16-for-36 shooting, including a 2-for-6 mark from beyond the arc. L.A. also shot 9-for-22 from the foul line, and Boston’s strategy of fouling DeAndre Jordan often was a success, evidenced by his 2-for-12 shooting from the line in the half.
Marcus Smart was Boston’s best player through two quarters. He tied Thomas with a team-high 12 points and took advantage of smaller guards in the paint to create quality shot attempts.
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 16 points.
After shooting poorly from 3-point territory in the first half, the Celtics decided to drive to the basket more in the third quarter, and the strategy worked. Thomas and Bradley, in particular, attacked the rim and took advantage of Los Angeles’ poor perimeter defense.
The Clippers closed the quarter on an 11-0 run, though, highlighted by a long 3-point shot by Jamal Crawford with 31 seconds remaining in the quarter.
L.A. had been trailing by 13 midway through the quarter, but Blake Griffin took over offensively for the Clippers. He finished the quarter with 19 points overall.
L.A. entered the final 12 minutes up 75-71 despite shooting 17-for-32 from the foul line through three quarters.
The Clippers stayed hot to start the fourth quarter, widening their lead to eight points with 9:10 remaining as part of a 31-10 run. Crawford continued to provide offense by scoring and making plays for teammates, as L.A. opened up a game-high 14-point lead with 6:39 remaining thanks to a 41-14 run going back to the third quarter.
Boston’s defense was non-existent as L.A. continued to pile on the points and secure the win. Crawford finished with 19 points and five assists off the bench. He was the difference in the second half.
Thomas led the Celtics with 32 points. Griffin led the Clippers with 26.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Paul’s age was obvious on this play as Bradley blew past him and threw down a huge dunk.
The Celtics are off to Golden State for a Wednesday night showdown with the Warriors. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images