Live Blog: Celtics vs. Clippers

Live Blog: Celtics vs. Clippers Final, Celtics 95-89: A sluggish start becomes a distant memory as the Celtics control the second half and win their second straight since Kevin Garnett‘s return.


It’s a big win, too, as looming on the horizon are back-to-back road games at Orlando and Atlanta later this week and a home game against the Lakers on Sunday, not exactly a cakewalk.


Boston (29-13) was outrebounded, shot poorly from the line again and hit just four 3-pointers, but it took care of the Clippers through some stifling defensive stretches. Los Angeles (20-24) shot 38.8 from the floor and was outscored in the paint 42-32, a category the Clips dominated early on. Three late 3-pointers by the visitors made it look a bit closer than it was down the stretch.


Paul Pierce led the way with 22 points and Garnett had seven of his 17 down the stretch for the Celts, who improve to just 2-3 on Mondays. They have two days off before meeting the Magic in a nationally-televised contest. We will be following all the action in that one so be sure to check in.


Fourth quarter, 38.5 seconds, Celtics 86-80: A great defensive play by Kevin Garnett, who shielded a driving Baron Davis and forced the Clippers guard to flail a pass off Garnett’s arm.


And for the second time in the final few minutes, Garnett turned to pump up the crowd while pounding his chest. It’s a safe bet he is happy to be back.


Fourth quarter, 59.0 seconds, Celtics 86-78: A turnover by Ray Allen leads to a basket for L.A. and the Clippers have some life, but Kevin Garnett answers with a basket to keep it a three-possession game with less than a minute left.


Fourth quarter, 2:52, Celtics 83-76: The Clippers force the issue a bit on a fast break before the timeout and Chris Kaman cannot handle Baron Davis‘s long pass, a key turnover in a seven-point game.


Paul Pierce told Rajon Rondo he had it when the Celtics gained possession a moment ago and brought the ball up. It seems as if Pierce is intent on keeping the ball in his hands a bit down the stretch, perhaps a bit peeved at the continued misses from the line.


While Pierce has hit all nine of his free throws tonight, his teammates are a collective 4-of-13.


Fourth quarter, 4:50, Celtics 80-73: The Celtics’ foul-shooting woes continue as Kendrick Perkins bricks a pair, but Paul Pierce makes it a moot issue by hitting a 3-pointer to push the advantage to seven points.


Boston is 12-of-20 from the line and has had some dismal nights there of late.


Fourth quarter, 5:17, Celtics 77-73: It has become the Craig Smith show here in the fourth quarter.


Smith had taken and missed just one shot through the first three quarters, but has 12 points in the fourth, all in a row. Although he cedes size to Kendrick Perkins, Smith just took the Celtics big man to the hole on successive plays to cut the Clips’ deficit to four.


Fourth quarter, 6:37, Celtics 75-69: The Clippers are staying close in large part due to their ability to get to the line. In this quarter its been done primarily by former Boston College great Craig Smith.


Smith has taken six free throws alone in the last 90 seconds. L.A. is 19-of-24 from the line.


Fourth quarter, 7:07, Celtics 75-67: Rajon Rondo gets a layup to end a mini-drought for the Celtics and continue a great stretch for him in this game.


Rondo had no points and just one assist to show for the first quarter, while counterpart Baron Davis had seven points and pair of dimes.


Since then, Rondo has scored 13 points and doled out 10 assists and limited Davis to a single basket.


Fourth quarter, 8:18, Celtics 71-65: Since that first 10-point lead for the Celtics, the Clippers have scored four straight to keep it close.


On a side note, we are again being treated early in the fourth quarter to Rajon Rondo playing with the reserves, a look Doc Rivers has employed with more regularity as the season has progressed, often with success.


Fourth quarter, 10:26, Celtics 71-61: A 3-pointer by Rasheed Wallace and back-to-back hoops by Tony Allen and Boston has its first double-digit lead of the game.


End of third quarter, Celtics 64-59: Ray Allen is unable to get a shot off in the closing seconds of the third quarter, but it was an impressive one for the C’s.


For whatever reason, however, Boston has not been getting good looks on final possessions like it did with regularity earlier this season. There was a stretch that saw the Celtics scoring with scant seconds left in a quarter nearly every game, so much so that Doc Rivers was asked about such execution and how often the team practiced those situations.


Most notable was the Paul Pierce to Rajon Rondo alley-oop, which forced overtime at Miami earlier this month, but such dramatics have been few and far between since.


Third quarter, 2:13, Celtics 62-56: The C’s had three straight possessions in which every player touched the ball, the latest a gem that resulted in a Kendrick Perkins layup.


Of course, the very next time down they make one too many pass and a turnover leads to a Clippers hoop.


Boston’s field goal percentage, once flirting with a fall into the 20s, is now at 50 percent (26-of-52).


Third quarter, 5:25, Celtics 58-50: Boston has outscored L.A. 29-12 since about the four-minute mark of the second quarter and it’s all being done by the starting unit that has been together so rarely of late.


The starting five has all but six of the C’s points in the game and is shooting a collective 21-of-38 (55.2 percent). This is the way it is supposed to be.


Third quarter, 6:33, Celtics 56-50: Baron Davis, after the latest in a series of bad misses, screams at official Derrick Collins and picks up a quick technical foul.


In a 3-of-11 performance, Davis has at least three air-balls.


Third quarter, 7:50, Celtics 53-48: The crowd loves it as Kevin Garnett throws a pump fake that sends Marcus Camby to the rafters, then glides in for a dunk and a foul.


The basket pushes the Celtics run to 24-10 going back to the second quarter.


Third quarter, 9:00, Celtics 51-46: Ray Allen is playing with plenty of purpose after a series of stinkers for the sharpshooter.


He had been held to single digits in three of the last four games coming in, but already has 12 in this one, the last two coming on a beautiful spin move in traffic.


Third quarter, 11:08, Celtics 45-44: The third quarter starts with the Celtics taking their first lead since late in the first quarter as Kendrick Perkins hits a short jumper.


Halftime, Clippers 44-43: Rajon Rondo’s 3-pointer at the buzzer is waved off after further review but the C’s close the half on a 14-6 run and the stretch offered a glimpse of what this team can be when healthy, a sight many fans have been dying for.


With the usual starting five out there Boston dominated on both ends and got everyone involved in some way.


After a miserable shooting start the C’s finished 18-of-39 (46.2 percent) and did not turn the ball over the past nine-plus minutes.


Back in a bit for the second half action.


Second quarter, 1:19, Clippers 42-39: The Celtics blow a chance to reclaim the lead when Kendrick Perkins misses and it leads to a fast break bucket for the Clips.


Second quarter, 2:21, Clippers 40-35: An interesting sequence here as Ray Allen dives into the first row to save a play, forcing Chris Kaman to stay home while his teammates race upcourt.


Seconds later the ball is coming back Kaman’s way, and he is the lone defender against Allen, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce.


Pierce is the recipient of Rondo’s feed and gets fouled by Kaman.


Second quarter, 3:04, Clippers 40-35: Rajon Rondo’s first shot of the game comes when is very open in the lane, but was bothered by the length of Chris Kaman and it fell out. No worry. Rondo buried a jumper seconds later and then found Kevin Garnett for another basket.


Second quarter, 5:45, Clippers 34-29: In case anyone is wondering, the Celtics’ lowest-scoring first half this season was 38 points against Orlando on Christmas Day.


A better bet is that the C’s reach their season high for turnovers, which is 26. They’ve already given the ball away nine times.


Second quarter, 6:00, Clippers 34-29: Ray Allen has come off the bench in the second quarter to hit a pair of 3-pointers to keep the Celtics close. But as warned a bit earlier they have their work cut out for them underneath.


The Clippers own a 20-14 rebounding advantage and have gotten to the line for 14 free throws, compared to Boston’s four.


Second quarter, 7:17, Clippers 32-24: It may not be visible on TV but the floor is being mopped up on either end whenever the teams go up court as there is some wetness on the floor. No clue if it is related to the rains earlier today or the fact that the arena was very hot at the start of the night, the heat likely on as temps approached 60 outside.


Look for slippage.


Second quarter, 7:50, Clippers 30-24: Rajon Rondo’s gaffe is forgotten quickly when Ray Allen buries a 3-pointer, the first of the game for Boston.


Prior to that Rondo threw a pass directly into the hands of a Clippers defender, but Rasheed Wallace got back well on defense to bother the shot.


Second quarter, 9:55, Clippers 26-17: Doc Rivers calls a timeout early in the second quarter after the Clippers score the first seven points. Overall it is a 12-2 run for L.A., with the latest bucket coming on a dunk by Mardy Collins.


Ricky Davis has seven early points for the Clippers, and also drew a charge early in this run.


End of first quarter, Clippers 19-17: A pretty sluggish first 12 minutes as the teams combine to make a paltry 14 baskets in 41 attempts.


Some interesting lineup scenarios for the Celtics here. Rajon Rondo left with almost four minutes left in the first quarter and did not return, but is on the bench. Probably just an early breather. Also, Bill Walker made an early appearance for Boston.


First quarter, 1:00, Clippers 17-15: Old friend Ricky Davis does a little pose after making the game’s first 3-pointer.


First quarter, 2:28, Clippers 14-13: Baron Davis hits a pair of free throws to give the Clippers their first lead of the game. He has seven points and two assists early on, compared to zero points and one assist for counterpart Rajon Rondo.


There has been some talk about stronger guards getting the better of Rondo of late, the last being Portland’s Andre Miller on Friday. Keep an eye on that going forward.


We are unsure what the timeout was for, and what the delay is all about but it seems like we are set to start up again.


First quarter, 2:45, Celtics 13-12: Rasheed Wallace entered at the 3:35 mark. He committed his first foul 44 seconds later and his second 26 seconds after that.


It may be time for Glen Davis, who declared an end to his “Big Baby” image and nickname before the game.


First quarter, 3:36, 11-11: Building on the stat we mentioned earlier, the teams were a combined 8-of-12 just a few minutes into this one, but have combined to shoot 1-of-15 since. Yikes.


First quarter, 4:34, 11-11: Baron Davis just chucked up a 22-footer that traveled about 24 feet. The hero in the last game between these teams heard it from the crowd.


First quarter, 5:43, 9-9: It’s hard to tell if Kevin Garnett could have caught a wild pass just thrown by Paul Pierce, but it was obvious he made a quick decision not to try. These are the choices he has to make in the condition he is in and you can bet that Doc Rivers is OK with the one he made there.


Both teams started 4-of-6 in this game but have combined to miss the last nine shots taken.


First quarter, 6:22, Celtics 9-8: Ray Allen misses his first shot of the night, continuing a bit of a shooting slump for the guard. He entered the night shooting 34.1 percent from 3-point range in January.


First quarter, 9:40, Celtics 6-4 : Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo each have wraps on their knees and all of it is white. As a unit it looks kind of cool.


Pierce has two dunks in the early-going, one off a feed from Rondo after the little man had a steal.


First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: We are underway here in a game that carries a ton of significance with tough road tests on the horizon for the Celtics.


One thing to look out for is the Clippers’ ability to bother shots. They rank second in the NBA in blocked shots per game behind Chicago, which dominated the Celts on the interior in a win here a couple of weeks ago.


7:15 p.m: Greetings from a dry, but obscenely hot TD Garden, where we are getting set for a tilt between the Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers.


Starting lineups are in and the C’s will again go with the usual five of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, a group that has gone 22-5 together this season.


Los Angeles starts Baron Davis and Rasual Butler at guard, Al Thornton and Marcus Camby at forward and Chris Kaman underneath.


The matchup to watch is Garnett-Camby, which features a pair of NBA Defensive Playerof the Year recipients. Camby ranks third in the league with 12.0 rebounds per game, including 13.6 in 11 games this month.


“Camby’s been doing this for 15 years and no one knows,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who indicated that Camby and Garnett are very similar players. “He’s going through a career playing great and it’s like no one sees him.”


On the injury front, Brian Scalabrine is out for the second straight game with a shoulder injury. Doc Rivers said that the Celtics will know a bit more about his status and that of Marquis Daniels following exams tomorrow. Rivers has been saying all along that Daniels is targeting a return after the All-Star break, but said today he could come back for the New Orleans game before the break Feb. 10.


11:07 a.m.: The Celtics coasted into Staples Center last month fresh off a Christmas Day, Paul Pierce-less win in Orlando and sporting a 23-5 record. It was the Los Angeles Clippers — yes, the Clippers — who delivered the first blow that day — in what would become a 4-8 stretch for Boston — by rallying for a 92-90 victory.

The rematch takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the TD Garden, where the C’s will hope to build off Friday’s win against Portland in Kevin Garnett‘s return. We will be courtside bringing you all the action.

Garnett had 13 points and a pair of blocked shots in the 98-95 overtime victory Friday. Pierce led the Green with 24 points.

But despite slowly returning to health, the C’s suffered through another second-half swoon, an issue which reared its ugly head throughout the 4-8 span, including the loss to the Clippers.

In that meeting, Boston led by as many as 11 points in the second half and were still up five with less than five minutes to go. But Los Angeles rallied to win on a Baron Davis jumper at the buzzer.

The dramatic victory gave the Clippers, who won in Washington on Monday, two wins in the last three meetings with the Celts.

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