The Clippers gave the Celtics a dose of reality last night.
After beating the uninspired Knicks at New York Friday night, the Celtics suffered their third straight home loss, losing to the Clippers 119-106. Los Angeles dominated Boston for three straight quarters, if the Celtics didn't outscore the Clippers 27-14 in the fourth the final score would have looked a lot worse.
J.J. Redick scored a game-high 27 points and Chris Paul led a magnificent offense while scoring 21 points and dishing out 10 assists. Blake Griffin also had a terrific game, scoring 21 points to go with his 9 rebounds.
And the Celtics had no answer for DeAndre Jordan in the paint. He scored 15 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
The Clippers racked up 68 points after the first two quarters, most points the Celtics have given up in a first half this season.
"We didn't provide any defensive resistance at all, nobody at all has against them lately if you look at their scores and watch them play," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Offensively I thought we missed a ton of great, open looks in the first half, especially from behind the arc and for whatever reason I thought that affected us negatively."
"Our ball movement is sensational right now," former Celtics coach Doc Rivers said about his Clippers. "We haven't been a great travel team up until now. We had amazing focus when we left on this trip. They felt like these are the games we can get."Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points, 7 assists and 2 steals. Tyler Zeller contributed 16 points, 5 rebounds and Kelly Olynyk added 14 points off the bench.
It wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Celtics put together a comeback in the second half. However, the Clippers' 35-point third quarter advantage was simply too much for the C's. Even though the Celtics cut it down to an 11-point Clippers lead and forced Doc Rivers to reinsert his starters in the fourth quarter, Celtics didn't have enough offensive fire power to make another run.
"We gotta be the team that punches first, and not just gets hit first," Isaiah Thomas said. "The Clippers hit us first and it was all she wrote after that... I don't know what it is, but we're waiting to get hit and then it's tough for us to get back in it. We gotta change that as soon as possible."Celtics got their butts kicked, which may not be the worst thing in the world for a team with playoff aspirations. The Clippers reminded the Celtics that it won't be easy to make the playoffs, and if the C's don't step their game up this week they could be bounced from playoff contention quicker than anyone expected.
After holding onto a playoff spot for over a week, the Celtics now sit in the ninth seed, just outside of the playoffs. But the Celtics quickly have a chance to regain the eighth seed tonight at Charlotte when they take on the Hornets. The Hornets currently sit in the 11th seed, half a game behind the C's.
Brad Stevens made a great point after the game. The Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the league. They finished their four-game road trip 4-0, beating their opponents by an average of 21.7 points.