LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics weren’t intentionally fouling noted brick layer DeAndre Jordan.
But keeping him on the free throw line was a major factor in Boston leading most of the first half which ended with the Celtics on top 46-43 as Los Angeles’ Chris Paul completed a 3-point play with 0.6 seconds to play.
The Clippers opened the game with a 7-1 spurt, only for the Celtics to bounce back with a 12-3 run to lead 13-10. It remained a relatively close game throughout the first which ended with the Celtics ahead 25-22.
Boston spent the second quarter playing with a lead, although Los Angeles had its moments when they showed signs of getting back into the game.
But the Celtics consistently found different ways to maintain control of the game in large part because of their second unit.
Marcus Smart had a nice first half scoring the ball from the perimeter as well as from the post. Terry Rozier and Kelly Olynyk provided a lift as well with their play.
Boston was also managing to play with a lead despite early foul trouble by Isaiah Thomas (he had two personal fouls within the first three minutes of play).
Boston was also aided by the Clippers’ horrendous free throw shooting.
The Clippers, the fifth-worst free throw shooting team in the NBA, were a woeful 9-for-22 from the line in the first half. Headlining their underwhelming performance was DeAndre Jordan (2-for-12).
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Monday night’s game.
It’s hard to imagine that he picked up two personal fouls within the first three minutes of play, and stayed in the game. The Clippers tried their best to get a third personal foul on Thomas, who still managed to score 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
The most decorated player on the floor, Paul did a decent job of taking what the Celtics defense was willing to give him. He led all scorers at the half with 16 points in addition to tallying a couple of assists.
Boston’s bench made their presence felt, with Smart leading the way. He had 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting to go with two rebounds. And two assists.
The All-Star forward is trending towards a double-double tonight, tallying nine points to go with five rebounds in the first half.
The shots were definitely not falling for Olynyk, but give him credit. He found another way to contribute as he led the Celtics with seven rebounds in the first half.
It doesn’t matter how good he is on the boards, missing 10 of 12 free throws is inexcusable.