The Celtics were delivered some bad news prior to tip when they learned they’d be without their All-Star center, Al Horford (head), or their bull dog defender, Marcus Smart (hand). Nevertheless, the Celtics ended their four game losing streak and escaped LA with the win, 113-97. It’s way past my bed time so let’s get right to it:
The Game Flow
The Celtics first half went about as well as one could have hoped. Marcus Morris was given his chance to start and shined with the opportunity. His consistent pressure on offense and improving defense was a catalyst in Boston’s start. Morris was the first Celtic in double digits and tallied 12 points at the half. He was matched only by Jayson Tatum (who had a bounce back game – more on him later), and Kyrie Irving, who added 13. Terry Rozier had a bounce back game, as well, and was another notable offensive force during the first half as he continued to get to the paint and provided scoring for the second unit. He finished the game with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals while providing stellar defense and a much-needed spark off of the bench.
Jordan and Griffin led the Clippers at half with 11 and 12 points, respectively, and DJ chipped in 7 rebounds for good measure. The good news was that the Celtics had officially re-found their shot. They went on a 10-2 run during Q2 and were shooting 45% from the field overall (including 9/22 from deep)- good enough for a 62-55 lead through two quarters.
(Sidenote: Scalabrine mentioned during the broadcast that the Clippers complain more to the refs than anyone in the league, and tonight it looked like it was working. The Clippers were getting every call during the first half and Brad was seething mad. You could clearly read his lips stating that the Clippers “can do anything they want”, and he had a point. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin were feasting down low and consistently using their elbows to clear out space; meanwhile Aron Baynes was being called for ticky-tack fouls up and down the floor. All of the Celtics big men were in foul trouble at half and Baynes managed to pick up his 5th early into Q3.)
The Celtics were clearly looking to build off of Tatum’s first half performance. Coming off of one of his worst games as a pro, the young father was in a zone to begin Q3, using handles and screens to get open and drill the open jumper. He finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Theis was tasked with guarding the Clippers bigs for much of the remainder of the game thanks to Baynes’ foul trouble, but that wasn’t the problem during the third quarter. The Clippers ticked off a 9-0 run thanks in large part to Tyrone Wallace, who quickly delivered 9 points off of the bench. The Clippers found themselves within striking distance at 72-69 but continued to score just 8 more points over the final 6 minutes of the quarter. The Celtics went into the 4th up 91-77 and had no intention of letting another lead get away from them.
Lou Williams had been on fire during the month of January, averaging nearly 30 points per game, but was kept in check for much of tonight thanks to stellar defense from Jaylen, Terry, and Semi. Williams managed to put up 7 points in Q4 to bring his total to 20 points for the night, but it wasn’t enough for the Clippers who struggled to match the Celtics urgent energy all night long. The Celtics split their back-to-back in LA and ultimately defeated the Clippers, 113-102.
- The Celtics offense was extremely balanced. Kyrie led the team with 20 points and 5 Celtics scored in double figures
- Blake Griffin was the Clippers high scorer with 23 points on 8 of 21 shooting (38.1%)
- Celtics won the rebounding match-up despite playing without their best big man (47-40)
- The Clippers shouldn’t have had that popcorn – 19 turnovers total for the game
This no-look pass from Kyrie and finish from Jaylen was purrrty.
The Tony Parker Special.