The Celtics never give up.
Scoring seven points in the final minute of regulation, Isaiah Thomas & 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.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger had his hands full guarding DeAndre 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.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.
Unlike Sullinger, Johnson couldn’t find his offense. In fact, he couldn’t find a way to impact the game in any statistical category, finishing the night with zero points and a pair of turnovers.
VINE OF THE NIGHT: Welcome back, Paul.
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Pick-and-roll defense.
There isn’t a point guard in the league that’s better at executing the pick-and-roll than Chris Paul. The Celtics struggled defending the veteran 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.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 32 fouls.
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.
@ OF THE NIGHT: