Boston 107, L.A. Clippers 102
When: 2:00 PM ET, Sunday, February 5, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) The Boston Celtics won their seventh straight game Sunday. But the biggest basket of the afternoon was scored by someone on the Los Angeles Clippers.
The TD Garden crowd loved both.
“I’m happy to be able to get one last shot,” Paul Pierce said after coming off the Clippers bench in the closing seconds and draining a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in Boston’s 107-102 victory. “I’m thankful to step on the court, get one last shot, bury it, give the fans some wave to the crowd, kiss Lucky (the leprechaun logo at midcourt), I’m happy, I’m satisfied. I feel I can put it all to rest now.”
Isaiah Thomas scored 28 points and the Celtics attempted a club-record 52 3-pointers (making 16) en route to the win.
The Celtics were the second team in NBA history to attempt 30 3-pointers in a half, according to STATS, Inc., as they went 9 of 30 in the first half. The Houston Rockets attempted 30-plus 3-pointers in both halves of the same game on Dec. 16, 2016, against New Orleans.
But the day belonged to Pierce.
The former Celtic great, whose next appearance on the home court could be when his No. 34 is raised to the rafters, started and played the first 4:57. He took and rimmed the first shot of the game. His coach, former Celtics head man Doc Rivers, planned to put him back in at the end, but the Clippers turned a rout into a close game.
He re-entered the game with 19.8 seconds left to another major ovation — and then avoided what would have been his first scoreless game ever in the building (630 games).
Asked why he put Pierce back in the game, Rivers laughed and said, “Because the fans made me. I’m no dummy.”
The 3-pointer was the 2,138th of Pierce’s career, fourth on the all-time list.
“Tough situation — sitting for like the last two hours,” he said of the shot. “I’m glad I ended it that way. You want to come in and get a win, but it was a tough day not only for me but for my teammates — there was a lot of emotions running through my teammates.”
Said Celtics coach Brad Stevens: “I’ve been told how smart our fans are and I couldn’t agree more, but with two minutes to go chanting his name in a close game, I was like ‘not yet.’ He hits all the big ones.”
Thomas delivered his 35th straight 20-point game (the club record is 40) and added eight assists and his team hit 30.8 percent from behind the arc. He also played just token defense when he picked Pierce up off a switch on the final play.
“Nah, I wanted him to shoot and make it,” Thomas said. “It is the perfect way to go out, and he did it the right way.”
Al Horford scored 13 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds while dishing out six assists. Amir Johnson, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk all had 13 points and Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown added 11 points apiece in the win.
Said Horford: “It (the reaction to Pierce) was overwhelming. I guess it shows the class of the fans here and their appreciation for Paul, you know, a lot of great moments here.”
The Clippers (31-20 and losers of four of five) never led and were down by as many as 18. They made a late run and shaved a 12-point lead with 2:48 remaining down to four but got no closer.
Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford led the Clippers, still without the injured Chris Paul, with 23 points apiece, Griffin adding eight rebounds and four assists. Crawford hit three 3-pointers, giving him 1,999 for his career, sixth all-time. Raymond Felton added 16 points off the Los Angeles bench and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 16 rebounds.
Boston’s Jonas Jerebko left the game late in the third quarter after a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Jerebko, who seemed to hit Brown’s shoulder, left with a bloody nose and was taken for tests after the game.
The Celtics reached 100 points for the 25th straight game, most for the franchise since a 32-game run in 1986-87.
NOTES: Boston G Avery Bradley missed his 10th straight game with an Achilles tendon strain but is closer. “From what I’ve been told he’s going to see (a doctor) again today, but the plan was for him to travel,” said Stevens, whose team opens a four-game trip at Sacramento Wednesday. … The Clippers continue their road trip at Toronto on Monday night. … Clippers coach Doc Rivers on Tom Brady: “I wish him the best of luck. In my eyes, he’s the greatest quarterback that ever played.”
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