Breather for Clippers starters cut short, but they hold off Celtics
The Clippers blew most of a 23-point lead and they got away with it against the struggling Boston Celtics.
Blake Griffin scored 22 points and DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 102-93 victory Monday.
J.J. Redick and reserve Jamal Crawford added 16 points each in Los Angeles’ eighth win in 11 games. Griffin came up one rebound short of a double-double in helping the Clippers improve to 4-1 against the Celtics in their past five meetings.
"It’s very unfortunate because we shouldn’t have let these guys back into the game," said Chris Paul, who had nine points and six assists. "The good thing is we were able to hold them off."
Boston’s bench provided most of its offense, with Brandon Bass scoring a leading 17 points, Marcus Thornton adding 15 and Marcus Smart 14. Jared Sullinger (14) and Evan Turner (10) were the only starters in double figures.
Tayshaun Prince scored the Celtics’ last basket while playing 20 minutes in his debut after being traded from Memphis last week.
"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," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "A couple of times he looked at me like, `Where am I supposed to go?’ because on offense I called a play."
Thornton’s 3-pointer drew the Celtics to 91-88 with under four minutes to play. It was Boston’s fifth 3 of the quarter. The Clippers kept Boston at bay from the free throw line, making 6 of 10 to end the game. Griffin hit all four of his attempts, while Jordan was just 1 of 4.
"It helps get my scoring average up, if I’m making them," Jordan said about opponents deliberately fouling him. "I obviously want to make them but if we go down and get a stop, the score is still the same."
Boston reduced its 23-point deficit to eight on Smart’s second 3-pointer of the fourth. He and Kelly Olynk combined to score the Celtics’ first 13 points of the quarter against the Clippers’ reserves.
"We started getting some stops and some rebounds, got out in transition in the second half and got on a little run," Olynk said. "But we dug ourselves too deep a hole at the start."
Clippers coach Doc Rivers was forced to bring back all of the starters to finish off the victory.
"You thought they would take it away and we just didn’t," he said of the L.A. reserves. "The shots weren’t going in, but defense gave us the lead."
Jordan, Griffin and Redick combined to power a 24-11 run that opened the third, extending the Clippers’ lead to 71-48 — their largest of the game. Griffin scored 10, including their first six, Jordan added eight and Redick hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Bass keyed the Celtics’ offense over the final 3:35, when they outscored the Clippers 14-3 to trail 74-62 heading into the fourth. He had eight points, scoring their final seven in a row to go with 3-pointers from Smart and Thornton.
Celtics: They fell to 0-4 against the West to start the trip. … Boston is 4-13 on the road and has lost three in a row away from home as well as 12 of its last 15.
Clippers: Reserve F Glen Davis addressed the crowd before the game on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. "We all know what he stood for, so I want you to point to your neighbor and say, `I love you and go Clippers!’" … Paul, who attended Wake Forest, on the recent additions of former Duke players Austin Rivers and Dahntay Jones to go with Duke alum Redick: "We’re definitely over the quota."
Prince is getting acclimated after his trade in a three-team deal last week. He averaged 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 25 games with the Grizzlies. Prince is in his 13th NBA season, making him the second-most experienced player on the team.
"It’s crazy because growing up in LA, I was a big-time Laker fan — and now I’ve played with Detroit and Boston," he said. "But any time you can step onto that floor and have fun doing what you’re doing, and being able to put your heart and soul on the floor no matter what the circumstances are, it’s great."
Former USC coach George Raveling will speak to the Clippers on Tuesday. He attended King’s "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 in Washington, D.C., and was handed King’s typewritten copy of the speech that day, which he still owns.