Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Celtics 139 - Clippers 134: C's defeat Clippers in OT Thriller
The Celtics never gave up.
Scoring seven points in the final minute of regulation, Isaiah Thomas and Co. forced overtime, where they defeated the visiting Clippers, 139-134.
After both teams shot better than 50 percent in the first half, the Celtics took a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, but saw that lead disappear in the fourth. Lance Stephenson's corner 3-pointer tied the game, 106-106, just before he earned a technical foul for taunting the C's bench. Still, Los Angeles took a five-point lead on an 8-3 run with 4:04 left.
Still trailing by five in the final minute, the Celtics closed the quarter on a 7-2 run. In that span, Isaiah Thomas scored six points, including a fadeaway jumper over DeAndre Jordan to send the game to overtime. In the extra period, Evan Turner caught fire, scoring half of his 14 points. The Celtics erased a six-point deficit, outscored the Clippers 17-12 in the extra frame and stifled Jamal Crawford's last-minute game-tying 3-point attempt to seal a remarkably resilient win.
Thomas' 36 points led six Celtics in double figures, and Jared Sullinger flirted with a triple-double (21 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists). Chris Paul (35 points, 13 assists) and DeAndre Jordan (21 points, 16 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles for the Clippers.
Former Celtic Paul Pierce scored all six of his points on a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. TD Garden gave him and former coach Doc Rivers a loud ovation during the player introductions.
Sullinger had his hands full guarding Jordan in the paint, but responded on offense. He scored 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting, pulled down 11 rebounds and dished seven assists. He also connected on a rare 3-pointer to give the Celtics the lead in the extra period, capping a 6-2 run.
There isn't a point guard in the league that's better at executing the pick-and-roll than Paul. The Celtics struggled defending the point guard, as he either scored a jump shot, dished to a big man or scored a layup. The pick-and-roll often caught the Celtics in a mismatch, which gave Paul an advantage to blow past one of the Celtics' big men. The pick-and-roll certainly sparked the Clippers' offense in the second half and nearly cost the C's the game.
The Celtics (32-23) will head into the All-Star break one game ahead of the Hawks for the third best record in the Eastern Conference.
Aside from the Hack-a-DeAndre Jordan, the Celtics committed a ton of fouls in the last two periods of the game. Paul did an excellent job drawing fouls and blew past nearly every one of his defenders (especially Jonas Jerebko). Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart -- two of the Celtics' best defenders -- fouled out of the game. Yet, the Celtics still won. That's impressive.
photo used courtesy of getty images