There was a lot standing in the way of the Boston Celtics snapping their four-game losing streak Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Celtics were on the second night of a back-to-back, having just dropped a heartbreaker to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. To make matters worse, Boston would be without Al Horford and Marcus Smart against the Clippers, as the former was evaluated for concussion symptoms and the latter needed stitches following a hand laceration.
But Boston overcame all of these obstacles and earned a 113-102 victory, their first win since Jan. 11.
So how did they do it?
Well, as has been customary throughout the season, the Celtics’ role players and reserves came up big when it was needed most. While Kyrie Irving (20 points) and Jayson Tatum (18 points) led the way for Boston’s offense, they were just part of a well-balanced scoring attack for the C’s.
Terry Rozier chipped in 15 points, nine of which coming in the second half. Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin both played 23 minutes apiece for Boston, contributing eight and five points, respectively. And Semi Ojeyele, who continues to play stout defense for the C’s, posted eight points over 17 minutes.
It’s clear head coach Brad Stevens has great confidence in every player up and down the roster. The Celtics started the fourth quarter with a lineup of Rozier, Larkin, Ojeyele, Tatum and Theis. With Boston holding a 14-point lead entering the final frame, this unit helped maintain the double-digit advantage with selfless offense and team defense. In fact, Irving didn’t check back into the game until the 5:35 mark, with the victory seemingly already in hand.
Aside from the glaring exception of Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have dealt with minor injuries and brief absences all season. But the team never appears to waver, and Wednesday night’s win was just another example of Boston personifying the “next man up” mentality.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Clippers:
— Nine of Marcus Morris’ 15 points came from beyond the arc. It was the first time the veteran forward has played in back-to-back games all season.
— It had been nearly six years since the Celtics beat the Clippers at Staples Center. In fact, the last time Boston beat L.A. on the road, Doc Rivers still was coaching the C’s.
— After only attempting 10 free throws against the Lakers on Tuesday, Boston got to the line 22 times against Los Angeles, converting on 21 of them.
— Despite the daunting interior presence DeAndre Jordan presents, the Celtics still managed to outrebound the Clippers by a 47-40 margin.
— Tatum (33) was the only Celtic to play more than 30 minutes Wednesday.