Celtics Hold Off Clippers 95-89 to Earn Second Straight Win


Celtics Hold Off Clippers 95-89 to Earn Second Straight Win Now that Kevin Garnett is back, hopefully, these are the Celtics that are here to stay.

Boston won a second straight game for just the second time this month, riding a strong defensive effort to a 95-89 win over the Clippers on a night when neither team was as hot from the floor as it would like to be. With its defensive leader back in commission, Boston held L.A. to 38.8 percent shooting from the floor and took its third straight at home over the Clippers.

After a slow first quarter, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were instrumental in orchestrating a comeback from a second-period deficit that grew as large as nine. Garnett, in his second game back from injury, logged 30 minutes and registered 17 points and two rebounds, while Paul Pierce led all scorers with 22 points.

Celtics 95, Clippers 89
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Jan. 25, 2010

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Headliner: Monday's affair wasn't particularly high scoring, but point guard Rajon Rondo still managed to put together a nice stat line for himself, finishing with 16 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. Plus, it was his almost-buzzer-beating 3-pointer that — despite being waved off — helped Boston end the first half on a high emotional note and complete the C's comeback early in the second half.

Unsung Hero: You can't put it any better than Comcast SportsNet color commentator Tommy Heinsohn: "Ray Allen is hot! Get him the ball!" The Celtics veteran got his groove back in the second quarter, sinking three consecutive 3-pointers to help Boston bury a burgeoning Clippers lead. Allen finished with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Scrub: Clippers center Chris Kaman had the kind of night that pretty much epitomized L.A.'s effort after the first quarter: cold. Kaman took 19 shots and made just five of them, finishing with 10 points — well below his season average of 20.2 per game.

Additionally, the Celtics are still struggling mightily from the charity stripe, finishing Monday just 23-for-34 (67.6 percent) from the line.

Turning Point: The Celtics were down by as many as nine in the second quarter before engineering a comeback that relied heavily on Ray Allen — but as time ticked down before halftime, Rajon Rondo chipped in. As the buzzer sounded, Rondo hit a fadeaway 3-pointer that would have given Boston a two-point lead heading into the intermission. The refs originally ruled it good, but upon further review, they reversed the call.

Still, it was a spark that ignited the home crowd — and it ignited the C's as they closed out a strong quarter and began to reassert themselves offensively after a slow start. It didn't take long for the momentum to carry over; during their first possession of the second half, the Celtics seized the lead for good when Rondo fed Kendrick Perkins for a jumper, part of a 20-6 run spanning the second and third quarters that helped Boston erase the deficit.

Up Next: The C's are off until Thursday, when they travel to Orlando for a date with Dwight Howard and the Magic. The Magic and Hawks are deadlocked for first place in the Southeast Division (prior to Monday's game), with Howard leading the way in points (17.2 per game), rebounds (13.2), steals (1.2) and blocks (2.5).

This is the third meeting between the two teams this season. The first time was Nov. 20 at the Garden, when Orlando snuck away with an 83-78 victory on a night when Vince Carter notched 26 points. But Celtics fans would be more inclined to remember the Christmas Day matchup, when Boston dominated Orlando on the road for an 86-77 win.

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