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The Celtics, losers of two straight, came into the Staples Center desperate for a win. Doc Rivers (2-0) looked to stay undefeated against his old team and after blowing a 23-point lead, the Clippers looked to their backcourt to get a 102-93 win on MLK Day.
Blake Griffin led all scorers with 22-points, while DeAndre Jordan finished with 19 and 12 rebounds. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford chipped in with 16 points apiece, as the Clippers are 8-3 in their last 11 games.
Brandon Bass scored 17 points for the Celtics, who finished with six players in double-figures. Marcus Thornton added 15 points off the bench, and Marcus Smart scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Evan Turner recorded another double-double with 10 points and 10 boards in the loss.
By intermission the Celtics trailed the Clippers 48-37. Los Angeles started the second half on a 24-11 run to push their lead to 71-48, the largest of the game. With 3:35 left to play in the third quarter, Boston outscored the Clippers 14-3 led by three-pointers by Smart and Thornton to cut the deficit to 74-62 going into the final frame.
Brad Stevens took advantage of the Rivers sticking with his reserves to start the fourth quarter. Thornton's 3-ball (Boston's fifth of the period) got the Celtics within three (91-88) with just under four minutes to play. Boston attempted to 'hack a Jordan' to stop the clock and send him to the free-throw line. Despite the forward going 1-of-4, the rest of the Clippers went 6-of-10 from the charity stripe to end the game. The C's only mustered up five more points in that last two-minutes for their third straight loss.
"We started getting some stops and some rebounds, got in transition in the second half and got on a little run," Kelly Olynyk said. "But we dug ourselves too deep a hole at the start."
Boston turned the ball over and forced unnecessary three-pointers after cutting the Clippers' 23-point lead down to three. Even though they kept Chris Paul in check (nine points, six assists), he hit a crucial 3-pointer and free-throws down the stretch when Doc needed him most. The Celtics bench is what kept them in this game, as they outscored L.A.'s 59-33.
Boston continues it's six-game road trip into Portland on Thursday night, when they take on the Blazers and try to get their first win on the west coast (0-4).
Doc Rivers is 3-0 against the team he coached for nine years. The C's shot 39.3-percent from the field but made 41.4 percent of their 3's scoring 58-second half points. The Clippers shot 47.6-percent on the night. Tayshaun Prince made his Celtics debut on Monday, logging in 20 minutes and scoring 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds.
"I didn't expect to play him nearly that much, but I felt pretty comfortable with him on the floor because he's really savvy and always in the right place, especially defensively," Stevens said. "A couple of times he looked at me like, 'Where am I supposed to go?' because on offense I called a play."
For now it looks like the veteran will be sticking around, at least for this current western swing. Boston is now 4-13 on the road this season.
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