BOSTON — After blowing a colossal lead in a gut-busting loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, the Celtics continued to give fans heart palpitations Saturday night against LA’s other team — the Clippers.
The C’s saw a 28-point first-half lead disappea, and ultimately fell 123-112 at TD Garden. To add on to the misery, the Celtics lost Kyrie Irving for the second half because of a right knee sprain. He finished with 14 points.
Gordon Hayward led the Celtics with 19 points. Montrezl Harrell had 21 while Danilo Gallinari had 19 for the Clippers.
The Celtics fall to 35-21 with the loss, while the Clippers climb to 31-26 with the with.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford
C’s TAKE MASSIVE LEAD
The Celtics got out to a hot start and finished the first 12 minutes even stronger, building a commanding 43-20 lead through one quarter.
Boston began with an early 9-0 lead behind an surge from Irving and Al Horford, who traded assists to open the scoring. But the Clippers came roaring back with an 11-0 run to tie the game 14-14 with 6:16 to play.
From there the C’s went back in control, scoring the next 15 points, highlighted by 3-pointers from Daniel Theis and Jayson Tatum.
Following a steal by Terry Rozier, Theis came back to drain another three to make it 34-17 with 1:49 to play. Rozier came up with another steal, leading to a highlight-reel transition dunk to push the lead to 20.
Boston finished the quarter on a 29-5 run and shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the first. Irving led all scorers with 12.
HOSTS IN COMMAND
Boston was not able to build on its massive first-quarter lead, as the Clippers held the scoring advantage in the second 33-31, but the C’s remained very much in control, leading 74-53 at the break.
The hosts continued to move the ball seemingly at will, with Marcus Morris and Hayward pairing up to keep the C’s well in front. Morris hit back-to-back shots for Boston to push the lead to 54-33 with 8:22 left in the half.
The Clippers narrowed the lead to 71-53 with 26.7 seconds left in the stanza, but a Rozier step back three sent the Celtics into the locker with an exclamation point.
Boston finished the first half with four players scoring in double digits, but lost Irving for the game with a right knee sprain.
C’s SLIP IN THIRD
Boston struggled mightily in the third quarter with Irving out, as the Clippers held a 28-12 advantage in the quarter to dwindle the C’s lead to 86-81 heading into the fourth.
The Clippers were able to claw away at the Celtics, going on a 9-0 run capped with a dunk by Garrett Temple. A 3-pointer from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander narrowed the Boston lead to 82-72 with 5:04 to play in the quarter.
Boston’s lead continued to shrink as it couldn’t buy a shot, going a measly 4-of-22 from the field in the third.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
What once seemed like a runaway win for the C’s turned into an utter nightmare.
LA continued to hang around well into the fourth, with Harrell closing the gap to four by converting an and-one after drawing a foul on a drive to the hoop to make it 93-89 with 9:31 left to play.
Landry Shamet tied it at 100 with a corner three with 6:41 to go. The Clippers got their first lead of the game with a Gallinari basket to make it 102-100.
Shamet was fouled by Brown on a 3-pointer and finished the 4-point play to make it 106-102 with 3:26 to play. Patrick Beverly’s triple made it 112-107 Clippers with under two minutes remaining. Harrell followed up with a transition dunk off a Celtic turnover to make it 114-107.
Beverly hit another three to make it 117-110 with under a minute left, effectively ending the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Hayward with the heads up D.
The Celtics hit the road for a tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday in the first leg of a back-to-back. Tip from Wells Fargo Center is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images