Final, Clippers 111-105: Welcome to 0-for-3 and counting.
The Celtics finished the third game of their five-game Western Conference road swing with another loss. They showed more heart than they did Tuesday in Denver, but the result was the same, although not quite as embarrassing.
Well, maybe it was embarrassing for Kris Humphries. Blake Griffin posterized Humphries with a vicious dunk en route to 29 points. Griffin added eight assists and six rebounds to his night’s work, too.
The Celtics made it interesting at the end, sort of, with Jerryd Bayless thinking he got fouled on a layup attempt with the Celtics down by four with eight seconds remaining. Bayless didn’t get the call, though, and the Celtics would have required a string of lucky breaks for it to matter, anyway.
It was also a good night for inefficient shooters named Crawford. Both Jordan and Jamal had big scoring games. The Celtics’ Crawford had 24 points on 7-for-17 shooting, while the Clips’ Crawford had had 26 points on 8-for-26 shooting. Crawford committed five of Boston’s 19 turnovers, and the Celtics almost had as many turnovers as assists (25).
Fourth quarter, 3:57, Clippers 102-92: Brad Stevens went to the hack-a-DeAndre strategy early, but Doc Rivers countered by pulling his center out of the game entirely.
The strategy worked by getting L.A.’s best shot-blocker off the court, but the Celtics have to defend the other positions now. Jamal Crawford is at 24 points and rising on 8-for-25 shooting.
Fourth quarter, 5:36, Clippers 100-86: Blake Griffin is getting doubled by the Celtics on every possession, and the Clippers are settling for jump shots when he passes out of it. That’s leading to lots of misses and lots of chances for the Celtics to come back.
In a flip-flop from earlier in the game, the Celtics now can’t figure anything out on the offensive end. Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green are going all-out “hero ball,” leading to just the types of empty possessions you’d expect.
Fourth quarter, 8:40, Clippers 98-84: Things are getting sloppy out there, and not just because the Celtics have been outscored 10-2 in this quarter. Blake Griffin has gone off the reservation, flying around the court and into other players hoping to get a call. He got a technical earlier in the game while sitting on the bench, so one more gets him tossed.
Speaking of tossed, that’s what both teams are doing with the ball. After Jamal Crawford picked off an ill-advised pass and toppled to the ground, he tried to pass the ball over his head and behind him. It went straight out of bounds.
It’s becoming a messy game, as most Clippers games become.
Fourth quarter, 10:00, Clippers 94-84: Flagrant foul magnet Jared Sullinger is at it again. Blake Griffin spun to the baseline and beat Sullinger, who lowered both arms to prevent Griffin from scoring.
Griffin, who reacts to any contact with entitled disbelief that anybody would dare touch him, tossed Sullinger aside. Sullinger picked up his third flagrant in two games, although one was rescinded. This puts him back at one away from a suspension.
End of third quarter, Clippers 88-82: With 23 seconds left in the third quarter, Jared Sullinger finally made his first appearance of the second half. His absence might be health-related or performance-related, since he’s just 1-for-6 from the field with three rebounds, but it’s been noticeable either way.
The Celtics fared pretty well without him, though, twice taking the lead and forcing a missed shot by Jamal Crawford at the buzzer. They have a shot heading into the final 12 minutes, which is all they can hope to ask against the Clips at Staples.
Third quarter, 3:30, Clippers 79-72: Somehow, the Celtics took the lead, and the Clippers didn’t like it.
Avery Bradley hit a jumper as he was fouled — although he missed the free throw — to give the Celtics a 70-69 lead. Unfortunately for them, that put the Clips in a bad mood. The Clippers are on a 10-2 run since, with a Jordan Crawford floater getting wiped out because of a charging call.
After the contact, Blake Griffin did his usual extracurricular nonsense by holding Crawford on the ground by the legs. Crawford didn’t like it, and Griffin, who apparently thought he was fouled too hard while dunking all over Kris Humphries on the previous play, stepped up to Crawford like they were upset about a run-of-the-mill charge.
Whatever. Griffin, the biggest flop fraud in the NBA, is having a fine game with 20 points and seven rebounds — and all the usual foolishness.
Third quarter, 7:54, Clippers 69-65: DeAndre Jordan averages 2.4 blocks per game. Brandon Bass doesn’t care.
Bass has snuck behind the Clippers defense along the baseline for a couple of loud slams, the second of which was an and-one. The Celtics have come out of halftime with attitude and are taking it to the Clippers at the offensive end.
As has been the story all game, though, the Celtics aren’t having the same success at their defensive end. Despite executing their offense with intent, the Celtics are knotted with the Clips 10-10 in this quarter.
Halftime, Clippers 59-55: Jordan Crawford is a man on a mission, for better or worse.
Crawford has 14 points, four assists and two steals to lead the Celtics in all three categories. His shot selection leaves a lot to be desired, as always, but he’s helping to keep the Celtics in the game. His backcourt mate, Avery Bradley, jump-started the Celtics’ late first-half push with a 3-pointer and a putback dunk as the Celtics made the Clippers sweat.
Crawford had an unprofessional moment when he drove the lane and dropped off a pass to Kelly Olynyk for what should have been a layup to cut the deficit to two points. Olynyk fumbled the ball, though, leading to a turnover, and Crawford slammed the ball on the ground in disgust and approached his teammate, yelling. Crawford took out the middle man the next time down with a three-point play to pull Boston within one point, but his display of emotion was unacceptable regardless.
What was also unacceptable for most of the first half was Boston’s defense. But it improved suddenly and noticeably in the last few minutes of the second quarter. The Celtics held L.A. to six points in the last three minutes while scoring 12 points of their own in that span.
Second quarter, 2:50, Clippers 53-46: Jeff Green, Jerryd Bayless and the Celtics are doing an OK job scoring with the Clippers. They’re just not doing a good job of stopping the Clippers.
Bayless has joined Jordan Crawford in double digits with 10 points, and Jeff Green drives for an old-fashioned three-point play to maintain the Celtics’ workable deficit against L.A. The problem is, while their offense is fine, the Celtics haven’t done enough on defense to make much of a dent in the Clippers’ advantage.
Jared Dudley is getting whatever shots he wants with a game-high 16 points. Defensive specialist DeAndre Jordan is making his mark, too, victimizing the much less athletic Kelly Olynyk for dunks, oops and offensive boards. Jordan has eight rebounds overall, three offensive.
Second quarter, 8:41, Clippers 37-27: This has not been Kelly Olynyk’s quarter.
The rookie tossed a short runner over the backboard, then missed everything with an air ball 3-pointer from the top of the key. Rivers has been nice enough to go with an all-bench lineup to keep this thing from getting too ugly, but an odd-looking group for the Celtics is just doing its best to stay within striking distance.
End of first quarter, Clippers 32-23: This is weird. The Celtics actually showed some fight toward the end of the first quarter. Who knew they still had that in them?
After the Clippers ran their lead to 16 points, the Celtics responded with an 8-0 run, ending with a 3-pointer by new Celtic Jerryd Bayless. A corner triple by Kelly Olynyk pulled the Celtics within six before Matt Barnes ended the quarter with a three of his own, taking some air out of the Celtics’ sails.
Jordan Crawford is playing like he has the green light. To be fair, he hasn’t shot terribly, and the lineup he’s playing with isn’t full of scoring options. Crawford leads the Celtics with nine points, plus three assists and two steals. Blake Griffin could coast himself to a career night if Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger, who each have two personal fouls, stay in foul trouble. Griffin had 11 points in the first quarter.
First quarter, 4:18, Clippers 24-10: Jordan Crawford’s inability to run a fast break is borderline amazing. The would-be point guard was leading a three-on-one fast break, with a dunk a virtual certainty. Instead, he tossed the ball behind Kris Humphries for Boston’s fourth turnover.
The Clippers have scored 14 unanswered points, and it’s not all dunks. They’ve had their share of dunks, of course, courtesy of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, but Darren Collison is getting to the line, and Jared Dudley has shown his sneaky effective game as well.
First quarter, 5:36, Clippers 17-10: Blake Griffin and the Clips don’t have Chris Paul, but they still love to run. The Clippers have used a 7-0 run to turn a 10-10 tie into an early lead that’s worrisome if you’re a Celtics fan.
Eleven of the Clippers’ 17 points have come on the fast break, which is why they’re shooting 58 percent from the field. Griffin has eight points, already almost halfway to his season average.
Sullinger, who began this game on the bench, is about to check in for Boston.
10:10 p.m.: Kris Humphries apparently has been cleared and will start in place of Jared Sullinger. He isn’t being benched — he’s just going to come off it to start the game.
Sullinger apologized to reporters for one of his two flagrant fouls on Tuesday, one of which was rescinded by the NBA. Sullinger was ejected from the loss to the Nuggets after receiving flagrants on a hard foul on J.J. Hickson and on an elbow to Kenneth Faried’s head.
9:48 p.m.: If there is one thing to look for from the Celtics tonight, it’s this: Effort.
Pure effort, plain and simple, is all that really matters against the Clippers. Doc Rivers’ new squad is superbly talented, much more so than the Celtics, even with Chris Paul out with a separated shoulder. Barring a shocking development, the Celtics will not win this game. They might not even be in this game.
But if they can’t win, at least they can play hard. They failed to do that at all Tuesday in Denver and only did so sporadically Sunday in Oklahoma City. This is setting up to be a winless five-game road trip, but the Celtics don’t have to wear that fact on their faces and in their body language while on the court.
An honest effort Wednesday is all anyone can ask of them.
9:12 p.m.: Losing five straight games and eight out of nine will force a coach to rethink some of his earlier decisions. Celtics coach Brad Stevens is starting with his lineup tonight.
Stevens told reporters before the game that he was mulling changes to the starting lineup, but he hadn’t made his decision. He also said Kris Humphries, who missed the last game with a sprained ankle, is uncertain, although he probably deserves a starting nod for the Celtics due to his play lately.
Until we hear for certain about the starters, let’s assume they’ll stay the same as usual, as shown below. We will update you with any changes.
8 a.m. ET: Doc Rivers’ second reunion with the Boston Celtics will not be much of an event.
For one thing, very few of Rivers’ favorite former players will even be suiting up. For another thing, the Celtics just aren’t good enough to work up much emotion in anybody. On Tuesday, that included themselves.
The Celtics (13-22) failed to show up in an embarrassing display in Denver, so coach Brad Stevens can only hope his guys were saving their energy for the second leg of the back-to-back in Los Angeles. The Clippers (24-13) are dealing with their own issues, since star point guard Chris Paul is sidelined with a separated shoulder, but they’ll take their position over the Celtics’ any day.
Darren Collison has kept the Clippers clicking in Paul’s absence. The UCLA product scored 21 points in Monday’s victory over the Orlando Magic, giving the Clippers hope of treading water until Paul returns. The Celtics haven’t done much treading without their own star point guard, Rajon Rondo. They’ve mostly just sunk.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 10:30 p.m. ET.
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