Celtics’ losing streak reaches six games with loss to Clippers
|01.09.14 at 1:11 am ET|
Considering how the Celtics‘ last two losses ended (124 points allowed per game, and an average margin of defeat of 27 points) their most recent defeat to the Clippers on Wednesday night could be seen with a positive twist.
Boston lost 111-105 in Los Angeles, but unlike in the first two games of the road trip, the Celtics competed admirably, and even led late in the third quarter. Alas, the defeat marked the C’s sixth straight loss and ninth in 10 games. It could get worse from here as the Warriors (24-14) and Trail Blazers (27-9) still remain on Boston’s road trip.
Blake Griffin led five Clippers starters in double digits with 29 points. Jamal Crawford went for 26 and Jared Dudley added 18. Darren Collison (15 points) and DeAndre Jordan (11 points) pitched in as well.
Jordan Crawford continued his strong play at the point guard position this season with a team-high 24 points and eight assists. Fellow guard Avery Bradley also contributed 24 points, while Jeff Green and Brandon Bass and added 15 and 14, respectively.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
First-quarter fast break: One might think that without dynamic point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers transition game would be slowed. Think again. Los Angeles’ high-flying attack remained, and it was no more prominent than in the first quarter. Of the Clippers’ 32 total points in the quarter, 18 came via the fast break (for perspective, Boston allowed 117 points in a loss to the Thunder Sunday, 17 of those were fast break points). The up-tempo style was one-sided as the Celtics only logged two fast break points in the quarter.
Sully benched: After his ejection Tuesday night for a pair of flagrant 1 fouls (the league eventually rescinded the first) in Boston’s 129-98 loss to the Nuggets, Jared Sullinger came off the bench. The demotion did not remove Sullinger from his current slump (he entered Wednesday’s game averaging 8.1 points per game, and 29.9 percent shooting in the last seven games). Sullinger played sparingly, and he made little impact on the game with just two points. In the fourth quarter, he was whistled for his fifth flagrant foul this season — the most in the NBA.
Frontcout D: Boston’s front court had a whale of a time slowing the front court of the Clippers. Dudley, Griffin and Jordan combined to notch 57 points with each contributing in other facets as well. Aside from his four 3-pointers, Dudley grabbed four steals and collected three assists and two blocks. Jordan pulled down 13 rebounds and Griffin did a little bit of everything with eight assists and six rebounds.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
Guard play: The guard rotation of Crawford, Bradley and Jerryd Bayless excelled vs. a battered Clippers guard corps, missing Chris Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick. Bradley and Crawford led Boston in scoring with nearly half the team’s points. Crawford added five assists, and Bradley’s points came on an efficient 10-for-18 shooting night. Bayless, playing in his second game with the Celtics, provided a spark off the bench with 11 points in 20 minutes.
Effort: Aside from an obvious disadvantage in the talent department, the Celtics were seriously lacking effort in their recent blowout losses to the Thunder and Nuggets. That seemingly absent effort was much improved against Los Angeles. When Boston fell into a 26-10 deficit in the first quarter, it appeared that a third straight blowout loss was imminent. But the Celtics fought back and cut the deficit to four by halftime. In the third quarter, they even grabbed their first lead since the opening moments of the Oklahoma City game.
Humphries returns: Boston’s most consistent bench player this season, Kris Humphries, sat out of the team’s loss Tuesday with an ankle injury. They desperately needed his post presence, as the Nuggets flattened the Celtics 129-98. But Humphries returned on Wednesday, and received a surprise start in place of Sullinger. Humphries had a productive all-around game with six points, eight rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes.