Celtics Allow 129 Points, Head Into All Star Break with Loss to Clippers
Guarding DeAndre Jordan in the paint is hard enough.
When he’s making his free throws, that makes it a much bigger problem.
Jordan had a career-high 30 points and 13 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Boston Celtics 129-119 on Wednesday night for their fourth victory in five games.
The 6-foot-11 center, a 59 percent shooter from the free-throw line coming into the game, went 8 for 9, including hitting all four when Boston coach Brad Stevens called for his team to foul him twice intentionally.
“Made his free throws,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We were jokingly saying: `When we find the hot hand, keep going to it.”’
Tobias Harris added 21 points, Danilo Gallinari had 20, and Lou Williams 19.
Jordan seemed to feed off Boston’s poor pick-and-roll defense every time the Clippers needed a basket.
“Whenever I’m setting picks and rolling, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” he said.
Jordan was 11 of 14 from the field. He entered hitting 64.7 percent of his shots this season.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 33 points and eight assists. Al Horford had 20 points, and Marcus Morris added 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics lost for the fourth time in five games, a stretch that has seen them fall behind Toronto for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics gave up over 120 points for the second straight game, allowing a season-high to the Clippers after giving up 121 against Cleveland on Sunday.
Boston hadn’t given up 120 before the last two games.
“We couldn’t guard them all night,” Stevens said. “So that had nothing to do with the start, middle or finish.”
The Celtics are 6-9 in their last 15 games.
“I think the theme here is our defense needs to be better,” Horford said. “We’re a group that’s built what we have so far based on the defensive end. We’ve taken a big step back on that, it’s obvious, the last few games.”
Boston had opened a 99-95 lead early in the final quarter on Terry Rozier’s 3 from the left wing before the Clippers went on 10-0 run over a 1:57 stretch.
Williams sparked the spree by scoring the initial six points, with the first 3 coming on a shot from beyond the arc in front of the Celtics’ bench. He added a conventional 3-point play after his driving basket.
Los Angeles saw its lead sliced to three twice before Jordan had an alley-oop dunk and Harris followed with a 3-point play with just under three minutes to play.
Williams’ 3-point play made it 126-116 in the final two minutes.
In the third quarter, the lead changed hands 10 times in the final 3:11, with the Clippers taking the final one, 93-91, on Harris’ 3 from the left wing.
Clippers: The are 5-2 since they sent Blake Griffin to Detroit in blockbuster trade on Jan. 29. … Former Celtics G Avery Bradley got a nice ovation during pregame introductions.
Celtics: Stevens said G Marcus Smart (cut, right hand) will start practicing next Wednesday, and that he put the team in a “tough position” with the injury that he suffered when he cut his hand on glass at the team hotel in Los Angeles in late January.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski walked into the arena early into the third quarter, bringing cheers and a loud reaction from the fans sitting behind the basket where Irving was shooting free throws.
He waved to the fans when he walked past the stanchion to his front-row seat. Later, he danced when he was shown on the video board.
Williams scored 15 or more points for the 27th straight game, the league’s second longest active streak.
Jordan had eight dunks in the game, four coming in the opening quarter.
The Clippers opened a 31-17 lead late in the opening quarter and led 34-25 after one. They held the lead for the entire first half, holding a 61-57 edge at intermission.
Clippers: At Golden State on Feb. 22. They’re 1-2 against the Warriors this season, with all the games decided by double digits.
Celtics: At Detroit on Feb. 23. The teams have split two games.