Things looked good for a while, but in the end, the Clippers’ fate was all too familiar.
A Bobby Simmons three-pointer with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Clippers a four-point lead, after the team rallied from a 10-point deficit just minutes prior.
Unfortunately, that’s when Paul Pierce showed up, and that’s when the Clippers’ offense once again ceased to exist.
Pierce scored 10 of his game-high 25 in the final frame, helping the Boston Celtics salvage the second half of their Staples Center back-to-back with a 94-85 win. Boston lost 97-94 to the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.
The loss drops Los Angeles to 23-17 and into fifth place in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind the Lakers for the lead in the Pacific Division.
The 23-17 record is an extra-depressing reality for the team, considering they were 21-12 and near the top of the conference just a month ago.
It was a chippy, physical affair from opening tip to final buzzer that saw a total of five technical fouls. It was also a game of massive runs.
The Clippers went on a 12-0 run to take control of the game midway through the second quarter and a 17-2 run in the fourth to briefly take the lead.
Boston then closed out the game with a 13-2 run, capped by a Mickael Pietrus layup that iced it.
Chris Paul struggled mightily for the Clippers, shooting just 3-12 from the floor and finishing with 14 points and five assists. He was wearing a face mask for the second consecutive game to protect his fractured nose, suffered in last Friday’s win over San Antonio.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 24 points, but his subpar free throw shooting once again limited his effectiveness on offense down-the-stretch. Mo Williams’ hot streak continued, as he chipped-in with 21 off-the-bench.
Kevin Garnett turned back the clock a bit for the Celtics, scoring 21 to go along with eight rebounds.
Boston improved to just 6-11 away from home this season, and it was just the second win in their last nine road games.
They sit firmly entrenched in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference at 23-19, 4.5 games ahead of eighth-seeded Milwaukee. They’ll head to Oakland to take on the Warriors on Wednesday.
The Clippers are faltering at the wrong time, considering this extra brutal rough patch in the schedule.
It was their fifth loss in seven days, and they’re in the midst of a stretch in which they’ll play six games in eight days.
They’ll also play 20 games in the month of March; the only team in the league to have that many games in any given month.
Time to get things in order now. The Atlanta Hawks visit Staples Center on Wednesday evening.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.