Celtics

Celtics snap four-game losing streak with victory over Clippers, 113-102

Celtics snap four-game losing streak with victory over Clippers, 113-102

LOS ANGELES – When you look at how this season has played out for the Boston Celtics, very little has come easy to them.

So it only made sense that the Celtics would get back to their winning ways on a night when the degree of difficulty in getting a victory would be high. 

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Despite missing two key players in Al Horford and Marcus Smart, Boston pulled away with a strong second half surge to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102. 

Kyrie Irving led five double figure scorers for Boston, with 20 points along with eight rebounds and seven assists. Jayson Tatum bounced back with a strong game as well, scoring 18 points to go with six rebounds. 

The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin and Lou Williams who had 23 and 20 points, respectively. 

The Celtics have beaten better teams than the Clippers (23-24) this season, but there aren’t many games that Boston absolutely needed to win as much as tonight’s matchup. 

And the circumstances by which Boston came away with the victory, makes it all that much sweeter. 

Think about it. 

Al Horford was held out after taking a blow to the head the previous night against the Los Angeles Lakers. And Marcus Smart was a last-minute scratch after suffering a cut to his right (shooting) hand that required stitches to close.

Oh, did I mention that the Los Angeles Clippers defensive stalwart DeAndre Jordan (ankle) was playing? 

Despite being severely undermanned, the Celtics got off to a solid start and led 25-22 at the end of the first quarter.

One of keys to Boston’s early success was rebounding which was a major concern 1) because they haven’t been good at it lately and 2) Jordan (ankle) was going to play. He would finish with a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds.

But in the first, the Celtics actually held a 14-11 advantage on the glass and had a 7-5 advantage in second-chance points. 

Both teams were in can’t miss mode for large chunks of the second quarter as the two combined to score 70 points while each shot 50 percent from the field.

Jayson Tatum, who had just four points on 1-for-6 shooting in Boston’s 108-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the second quarter alone which proved to be one of the keys to Boston taking a 62-55 lead into the half. 

The Celtics picked up where they left off in the third, scoring the first six points of the quarter to push their lead to 68-55. 

Following a Clippers time-out, they responded with a 16-6 run that cut Boston’s lead to 74-71. 

And once again the Celtics delivered an appropriate response, scoring seven of the next nine points to lead 81-73 with less than three minutes to play in the third. 

The Celtics continued to control the action and went into the fourth with a comfortable 91-77 lead. 

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David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz doesn't only come through in the clutch when he's in the batter's box.

He also delivers in clutch situations off the field. Take Al Horford's wedding for example. The Celtics big man had a last-minute wedding in the Dominican Republic and desperately needed a car to pick up his wife-to-be. Big Papi saved the day, sending Horford his Phantom and a driver. He even let them keep the car for a couple of days.

Horford told the story to the NBCS Camera Guys, who you should definitely follow on Twitter if you haven't already. . .

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Marcus Morris evaluates his job defending LeBron: 'I did a (expletive) job'

Marcus Morris evaluates his job defending LeBron: 'I did a (expletive) job'

CLEVELAND – There was plenty of blame pie to go around the Boston Celtics following their 116-86 Game 3 beating by Cleveland. 

But no Celtic seemed to be taking ownership of his role in the defeat, more than Marcus Morris who acknowledged his poor play particularly on defending LeBron James.

“Personally, I did a (expletive) job defensively against LeBron,” Morris told reporters following Boston’s Sunday afternoon practice at Quicken Loans Arena. “He (James) was just too comfortable when I was guarding him.”

In the first two games of this series, James was just 8-for-23 shooting (34.8 percent) with a total of 22 points with 13 assists and five turnovers when defended by Morris. 

On Saturday, James tallied 14 points when defended by Morris on 5-for-9 shooting according to NBA.com/stats, along with five assists and just one turnover.

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As the team poured over the film from Saturday night’s loss, there were several contributors to one of the worst losses ever under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Morris knows this. 

But he also knows that how he fares against James will go a long way in determining whether the Celtics can emerge victorious in Game 4 which would then put them one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals. Despite his struggles against James on Saturday, Morris and the rest of the Celtics haven’t lost any faith that when all is said and done, things will work out for him and the Celtics.

“Very confident. Very confident,” Morris said when asked about the team’s level of confidence right now. 

“I’m 100 percent sure it won’t be the same (Celtics) team on Monday,” Morris said.

LINEUP CHANGE? Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens won’t rule out making a change to the team’s starting lineup for Game 4 on Monday. If there is a change, it would likely involve Marcus Morris returning to the bench while being replaced by Aron Baynes or potentially Semi Ojeleye. A case can be made for why Stevens would start either guy. In Baynes, Boston would have Al Horford matched up against Kevin Love while Baynes would have to battle with Tristan Thompson underneath the rim. Such a move would also bolster Boston’s bench with the return of Morris to the second unit.

LARKIN PROGRESS: Shane Larkin's left shoulder injury suffered continues to improve, but there's still no timetable for when he'll be healthy enough to return to the Celtics lineup. Following Boston’s practice on Sunday, Larkin and a member of the Celtics’ training staff were playing catch with several feet of space in between them. While it’s certainly a good sign to see Larkin throwing the ball with some distance, he remains highly unlikely to play in this series.  

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