Tuesday night was exactly what we’ve all come to expect from a matchup between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers.
Despite Kawhi Leonard being ruled out just before tip-off with back spasms, and Marcus Morris Sr. being ruled out with a concussion at halftime, it was a high-scoring, back-and-forth game that featured a ton of awesome highlights.
Boston managed to squeeze out the narrow 117-112 victory, though, to improve to 18-17 and win their third straight contest.
Kemba Walker was crucial to the Celtics’ success as he led with 25 points, six assists and four rebounds. Jaylen Brown had 18 points, six rebounds and two assists and Jayson Tatum (14 point, five rebounds and two steals) made up for a slow start by coming up clutch in the fourth quarter.
Both Payton Pritchard (14 points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal) and Robert Williams (13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three blocks) were electric off the bench, as well.
Paul George had 32 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Clippers, and Reggie Jackson chipped in 25 points and seven assists in the loss.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson
LOTS OF OFFENSE
Boston shot well from the get-go, hitting their first 7-of-8 field goals and shooting 62.5 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from deep.
Brown led that effort, racking up 14 points, two rebounds and two assists while showing no rust after sitting out last game.
Boston led by as many as eight points in the opening frame against a Leonard-less defense, though LA kept things close.
Thompson had seven first-quarter points, while Walker had five points and four assists early.
George couldn’t seem to miss for LA, though, going 5-for-6 from the field for a team-high 12 points.
Boston finished the quarter up 35-32.
LEAD CHANGE GALORE
Pritchard and Williams offered Boston a lot of energy starting the second, and the Celtics got up to 66.7 percent shooting briefly.
With a mid-range jumper, George tied things up at 55-55, and with just under two minutes left, former Celtics player Marcus Morris hit a 3-pointer to take the lead.
It was back and forth from there with 17 (!) lead changes in the first half.
Brown and Walker had 16 and 11 points, respectively, at the end of the second. Thompson had nine points, five rebounds an assist and this block:
But behind George’s 21 first-half points, in addition to 10 apiece from Morris and Reggie Jackson, the Clippers led 63-62.
Walker drained a three for the first points of the half to give Boston the advantage back, and he added to it on their next offensive possession.
It was short lived, as the Clippers enjoyed their largest lead of the game (six points) in the third, but Walker carried the team in the third as the Celtics didn’t let the lead get out of hand. He had 13 points in the quarter alone.
Meanwhile, LA had 23 team assists by the end of the third, as it displayed great movement on the floor.
George had 27 points by the end of the frame, and the Clippers led 89-88 entering the final quarter.
C’s PULL IT OUT
Pritchard and Williams continued to raise the energy for Boston in the opening minutes of the fourth, and with a Teague triple assisted by Williams, the Celtics went up 100-94.
This was basically Robert Williams all game:
Ivica Zubac quickly helped dissipated it, though, before the Celtics went on another small run.
After Tatum missed six consecutive shots, he finally got going when it counted. A 3-point jumper assisted by Williams gave Boston a 109-100 lead with 5:36 to play. It was the Celtics largest lead to that point, until Tatum hit a 2 a few sequences later.
Tatum’s increased production was the difference, as the Celtics closed out the game thanks to free throws from Theis and Walker down the stretch.
One more game sits between the Celtics and the All-Star break. They take on the Toronto Raptors next who’s roster and coaching staff has been essentially decimated due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
That game, if it happens, will be Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.