BOSTON — It is difficult to tell when Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe is up or down because he is so quiet.
But Bledsoe acknowledged he has struggled with his confidence recently.
On Sunday against the Boston Celtics, Bledsoe played as if he wasn’t having any doubts in his abilities.
Bledsoe tied his career high in points with 23 and field goals made at nine — he took 15 shots. He tied his season high in assists with 10, to go along with seven rebounds, in the Clippers’ 106-104 loss.
“I hadn’t been shooting the ball well and I hadn’t been playing with confidence,” Bledsoe said. “But … I had a mind-set coming into the game that I was just going to play and just shoot the ball.”
Bledsoe played almost 40 minutes. He played all 24 minutes in the second half. Bledsoe missed a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter, but Blake Griffin hustled for the offensive rebound.
Bledsoe got another opportunity and made a three-pointer with 56.3 seconds left to pull the Clippers to within two points, 103-101.
“I worked on that shot a lot,” Bledsoe said. “I work on my shot a lot. And fortunately it fell today.”
Bledsoe has been put in this position because starting point guard Chris Paul is out because of a bruised right kneecap.
But it has been Clippers assistant coach Robert Pack who has been talking a lot to Bledsoe.
“He tells me all the time, ‘Don’t worry about that shot. Take the next one,’ ” Bledsoe said.
“You’ve got to take the next one with confidence and know you are going to make it.”
Crawford doesn’t like mask Jamal Crawford wore a mask to protect his broken nose, at least for the first five minutes he played.
But with 8:15 left in the second quarter, Crawford took off the mask that Clippers head athletic trainer Jasen Powell had made.
“It was just so uncomfortable at certain points that I just had to take it off,” Crawford said. “So I had to take my chances.”
Crawford had 23 points and six assists against the Celtics.
Paul, Billups still out As the Clippers go through this eight-game trip, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro is being asked often about the status of Paul and Chauncey Billups.
Del Negro said there is no timetable for either Paul or Billups (tendinitis in left foot) to return.
Paul missed his seventh consecutive game and his 10th of the last 12.
Billups has played in only three of the 49 games.
“Chauncey is feeling better. Chris is feeling better. Of course we want them back as soon as possible,” Del Negro said. “But we also have to protect them and make sure when they come back that they are feeling a lot better.”