Final: Celtics 99, Clippers 92. It wasn't exactly pretty from start to finish, but the Celtics have emerged with a come-from-behind win over the Clippers at the Staples Center. The C's improve to 2-1 on their West Coast road trip.
Paul Pierce finishes with 24 points; Ray Allen adds 22. Kevin Garnett adds a double-double, 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The C's survive a late massacre from Randy Foye, who finishes with a season high of 32.
From here, it's on to Salt Lake City, where the Celtics finish out their road trip with a Monday night tilt with the Jazz.
Fourth quarter, 1:23, Celtics 96-87: Big Baby gets inside and scores. That should just about do it.
Hats off to the Clippers, who put up an incredible fight. But this second half has been all C's.
Fourth quarter, 2:35, Celtics 92-84: Randy Foye makes a couple of free throws, and DeAndre Jordan makes back-to-back blocks to ensure a stop.
Uh oh. Look out. This one's far from over.
Fourth quarter, 3:49, Celtics 92-82: The Clippers keep trying to chip away, but they just can't string any stops together. The Celtics' offense is looking like a well-oiled machine right now.
The ball movement is sharp, the timing is perfect, the shot selection is smart. The C's are playing their game now.
Fourth quarter, 6:09, Celtics 89-77: Paul Pierce nails a 3 at the buzzer of the shot clock; Glen Davis follows with a layup on the next possession. That was an awfully quick 8-0 run.
This one's getting out of hand. Vinny Del Negro needs a timeout.
Fourth quarter, 7:13, Celtics 84-77: A few minutes ago, Delonte West hadn't made a 3-point field goal since November. Now he's got two, and he's given the Celtics a huge boost. They're back up seven.
D-West has shown tremendous vision, always knowing when to shoot and when not to. He's made great decisions with the basketball all night.
Fourth quarter, 8:54, Celtics 78-75: Randy Foye just barrelled his way through three Celtic defenders, including the two newcomers from OKC. Bucket, foul.
Foye hits the free throw, putting the Clippers back in one-possession range. He's been a warrior tonight.
Fourth quarter, 10:27, Celtics 76-70: Glen Davis plows his way through traffic and gets two shots. That's how it's done.
Big Baby hits two big ones. The Celtics remain up by six. If they string together a few stops here, they'll be in good shape.
End of third quarter, Celtics 74-68: At the buzzer, Paul Pierce tacks on a running floater in the lane for good measure. The Celtics push their lead from four to six.
Pierce's shot is the cherry on the sundae for a 34-point third quarter for the Celtics. Pierce has 12 of them himself, giving him 20 for the game.
Blake Griffin has 21.
Those two are ready to duel to the death in this fourth quarter.
Third quarter, 2:24, Celtics 65-61: Blake Griffin just breathed life back into the Staples Center crowd by throwing down another monster one-hander in transition.
Now the Clips are back to nipping at the Celtics' heels. Doc Rivers needs a timeout.
The key for the Celtics has to be minimizing mistakes on the offensive end. When the C's turn the ball over, they're enabling Griffin to get going in transition and destroy them.
Third quarter, 5:11, Celtics 62-53: Rajon Rondo with the steal, his second of the quarter. Rondo finds KG in transition, and KG finishes.
That's a 22-6 Boston run to open the second half.
Whatever was holding the C's back in the first half, it's not an issue anymore. They're cruising.
Third quarter, 6:44, Celtics 54-53: The Celtics open the third quarter on a 14-4 run to take the lead, but Blake Griffin wakes up and slams one home. Nice two-handed finish.
A big key for the Celtics in this game is KG defending Blake one on one, keeping him off the block and forcing him to settle for jumpers. He's done that in spurts, but not consistently.
Third quarter, 8:40, Clippers 51-50: Wow, what an ugly third quarter so far. Turnover city.
Amid all the running back and forth, the Celtics do manage to sneak in a few baskets. Kevin Garnett just scored to cut the Clippers' lead to one.
Third quarter, 10:40, Clippers 49-46: Nenad Krstic gets a good look under the basket and gets slammed by Chris Kaman. The C's center gets to the line and hits one of two free throws.
Suddenly the Clippers' seven-point lead is cut to three.
Don't sleep on the Celtics — they're still alive and well.
Halftime, Clippers 47-40: The Celtics are in bad shape at the break, and it has nothing to do with Kendrick Perkins or the guys he was traded for. The C's old guard is stinking up the joint.
They're shooting 34.3 from the field as a team, and that's primarily because Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis have combined to shoot 5-of-18. This team can't win if its core guys don't produce.
On the Clippers' side, Blake Griffin is having a monster game as expected — 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists — but Randy Foye has surprisingly been huge as well. The Clips' small forward leads all scorers with 14 points at the break.
Second quarter, 2:59, Clippers 42-34: A monster slam from DeAndre Jordan pushes the home team's lead back to eight.
Doc Rivers looks exasperated. This won't be his typical "last three minutes before halftime" timeout. He might have to yell some sense back into these guys.
Second quarter, 4:09, Clippers 40-34: Ray Allen is the only reason the Celtics are keeping this game respectable. The wily veteran knocks down a 3 and then later gets to the line to drain two free throws.
The C's still need pretty much everyone else to step up, though. KG and Rajon Rondo have a combined four points. That's not gonna cut it.
Second quarter, 6:20, Clippers 38-25: That's an 8-0 run for the Clippers. The Celtics have looked pretty terrible offensively.
The diagnosis? Poor chemistry with the ball, leading to broken plays, awkward spacing and forced jump shots. The Celtics should be better than this — or rather, they will be once they have a little practice time.
Second quarter, 8:33, Clippers 30-25: The second unit has looked not too shabby offensively. D-West and Big Baby have each given the C's a little scoring spark, and Jeff Green just drew contact from rookie Al-Faruq Aminu and made two shots.
It's nice to see Doc giving his starters some extended rest. But then again, it'd be nicer if the C's could get a lead over a last-place team.
Second quarter, 9:06, Clippers 30-25: Hey, remember Chris Kaman? If you forgot that he existed, I really can't blame you. But the Clippers' center is an All-Star, and he still occasionally reminds you why.
Kaman has come off the bench to pour in 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He's also got two boards and three blocks.
Second quarter, 10:33, Clippers 28-21: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Celtics' new-look second unit: Delonte West, Von Wafer, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Chris Johnson.
Something tells me Doc Rivers isn't going to trust this unit for very long. He needs at least one starter in there to anchor the unit and give it some structure (not to mention a little offensive firepower).
As I write these words, Doc goes to his bench and gets Nenad Krstic to sub in for C.J.
That didn't take long.
End of first quarter, Clippers 26-18: Jeff Green has made his debut in Celtic green, and the D-League callup Chris Johnson enters along with him.
Defensively, the two newbies look OK, as they string a couple stops together right out of the gate. It may take a while for Green and "C.J." to get the hang of the offense, though. Even the most basic pick-and-roll play leaves Green looking a little confused.
That's why the trade deadline is in February, folks. Plenty of time for the Celtics to integrate their new pieces before they begin the games that really matter.
The Clips have the lead behind a monster first quarter from Mr. Griffin. The rookie sensation has six points, six boards and three assists.
First quarter, 2:31, Clippers 22-16: Blake Griffin's got six points, four boards and two assists already. Can you say, "triple-double watch?"
KG is doing his darndest to keep up with Griffin, but he just looks outclassed. The Clippers' rookie just has unparalelled athleticism.
First quarter, 5:18, Clippers 14-10: The Celtics are really struggling so far, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Kendrick Perkins being gone. The C's just look too old and slow to keep up with the Clips.
Blake Griffin, Ryan Gomes and Eric Bledsoe have each poured in four points. The C's can't stay in front of any of them defensively.
First quarter, 7:16, Clippers 10-6: Blake Griffin just put Kevin Garnett on a poster. Wow.
The Griffin mystique is everywhere you look this season — on Twitter, on YouTube, and the like. But when you see it up close, it's another thing altogether. KG and the Celtics are getting a rude awakening to the Blake Show.
First quarter, 9:04, 4-4: The Celtics will take the good with the bad with Nenad Krstic — the good news is his early production, with two points and two offensive rebounds. The bad is early foul trouble.
Glen Davis will make an early entrance as Krstic picks up two fouls.
Jeff Green is still on the bench itching for his chance.
First quarter, 11:23, Celtics 2-0: The Nenad Krstic era has begun, and it's begun well. The big Serbian gets his feet wet on the Celtics' first possession, getting a bucket inside to put the C's on top.
Say what you will about Kendrick Perkins, but he was never much of a post scorer. Krstic gives the Celtics a different look down low, and it's at least intriguing.
9:15 p.m: You're going to see a lot of Nenad Krstic tonight. Expect him early and often.
The Celtics' newly acquired big man will be in the starting lineup on Saturday night in place of Kendrick Perkins. Krstic will hold down the starting job for the next few days, acting as a stopgap until Shaquille O'Neal is healthy again.
As for Jeff Green, expect him to come off the bench backing up either Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce. The C's are happy to have Green's versatility, what with their nagging injury concerns.
9 a.m: The Celtics' first game after the trade deadline didn't exactly go according to plan. With five players — Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody — all cast off hours before tipoff, the C's were hardly ready for a nationally televised tilt with a playoff contender.
Predictably, the C's came up short on Thursday night in Denver, surrendering a 16-0 run to the Nuggets and losing in a shorthanded effort, 89-75.
There's hope that game two after the deadline will be better.
The Celtics head to Los Angeles on Saturday night to take on the L.A. Clippers, their first meeting this season with Blake Griffin and his up-and-coming squad. Their five trade chips are all still gone, but in their place the C's have two new additions.
Nenad Krstic will add some depth to the Celtics' front line with a pair of O'Neals still injured, while Jeff Green will give the C's some flexibility in their bench as a backup three or four.
The Celtics had only nine guys available on Thursday night, and that includes both a rookie fifth guard who rarely plays (Avery Bradley) and a D-League callup making his NBA debut (Chris Johnson). They'll be happy to receive some added depth.
The Clippers are finishing up a difficult back-to-back against two top teams, the Lakers and Celtics; the C's, meanwhile, have every reason to believe they can win this game. They're 16-10 on the road this season, 12-8 against Western Conference teams, and perhaps most importantly 33-11 without Kendrick Perkins.
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