Gordon Hayward

Lou Williams, Clippers baffled by refs' controversial call in loss to Celtics

Lou Williams, Clippers baffled by refs' controversial call in loss to Celtics

BOSTON -- Doc Rivers was trying to explain why Gordon Hayward's grab of Lou Williams should have been a shooting foul when the culprit himself strode by in the TD Garden hallway.

"Gordon, you know you fouled him (in the act of shooting)," the Los Angeles Clippers head coach called out.

"It was close," Hayward responded. "It was close."

Rivers' reply: 

"When an NBA player says, 'It's close' ... "

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Here's what prompted Rivers' call-out: With 23.6 seconds left in the first overtime of Thursday's game and the Celtics up by three, Hayward tried to use Boston's last pre-bonus foul on Williams before the Clippers guard could hoist a 3-pointer.

Hayward's foul came a hair late, though, and when Williams drained the 3-pointer, referee Dedric Taylor signaled an "and-one" to set up a potential four-point play.

Head referee Scott Foster called an officials' conference from the other side of the court, however, and after a brief discussion, Hayward's foul was ruled as "on the floor," which meant no go-ahead four-point play for Williams.

The 33-year-old guard nearly blew a gasket on Taylor after the verdict and was no less incensed after the game.

"(Taylor) said, 'They had a foul to give,' " Williams said. "And I said, 'Duh. I know that too. That's why I went into my shooting motion.' "

In fact, Williams said he saw Celtics coach Brad Stevens let his players know they had a foul to give, which prompted the wily veteran to tell his teammates to go into their shooting motion as soon as they caught the ball.

"Sometimes in this league you understand the rules, so you try to beat the rules," Williams said. "And I think we're taking away some of that to end the game with anticipating the calls and anticipating the scenarios.

"They're up three points, we know they're going to take a foul. ... That's a heads-up play. It wasn't a swing-through. It wasn't any of the things they've banned. So, I don't understand why it wasn't a good bucket."

Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell was a bit more blunt.

"It was a bad call, man," Harrell said. "I'm not trying to say anything to get fined or anything like that but ... it's a four-point play all day long."

That call itself didn't sink the Clippers -- Landry Shamet drilled a game-tying 3-pointer seconds later to set up double overtime -- but it did mar what was an otherwise thrilling night of basketball that ended in a 141-133 Celtics win.

Clippers-Celtics Takeaways: Gordon Hayward as clutch as ever in C's big win over Clippers

Clippers-Celtics Takeaways: Gordon Hayward as clutch as ever in C's big win over Clippers

Gordon Hayward has had better games than what we saw on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

But few compare to how clutch he was in Boston’s 141-133 double overtime win over the Clippers.

Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker were huge most of the game for the Celtics, but it was all Hayward in the decisive second overtime period.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Hayward made a 3-pointer in the second overtime period that put Boston ahead 137-132.

He would finish the game with 21 points, seven of which came in the second overtime period.

To put that in perspective, Hayward's seven points scored in the second overtime was more than the entire Clippers team (6 points) scored in that session, and equalled the point total of the rest of the Celtics in the second OT.

Moments after his 3-pointer that put Boston ahead by five points, Hayward blocked a driving lay-up attempt by Lou Williams that went out of bounds and went off of Williams.

Click here to listen and subscribe to The Enes Kanter Show Podcast:

Hayward, who also had 13 points, four assists and a blocked shot, would later take a 3-pointer, miss it, and wound up with the loose ball as part of his team-high 13 rebound total.

He wasn’t done.

With the Clippers’ chances at a comeback win dwindling, Hayward was able to put the game away by stealing an in-bounds pass to Williams and was soon back at the free throw line after being fouled.

Hayward's play was a reminder of how this Celtics team has navigated successful play most of this season.

While there were others who put up better numbers than Hayward, his play down the stretch when the game was on the line was indeed one of the keys to the Celtics (38-16) going into the All-Star break with wins in eight of their last nine games, and 11 of 13.

JAYSON TATUM

The first-time All-Star dazzled the TD Garden crowd with one of his best performances of the season. It’s easy to lock in on Tatum scoring a game-high 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting along with his nine rebounds.

But just as impressive was his defense as part of the multi-player attack when it comes to guarding Kawhi Leonard who had 28 points but did so on 10-for-27 shooting.

The confidence that he's playing with is on a level that's only going to continue leveling up with time. And experiences like what we saw on Thursday when for long stretches, Tatum outplayed the reigning NBA Finals MVP and anyone else who set foot on the TD Garden floor, will become more common.

LOU WILLIAMS

One of the best professional scorers in the NBA, the Celtics had trouble keeping up with Williams all game.

As prolific as Jayson Tatum was scoring the ball, Williams held his own scoring most of the game as well.

He would lead the Clippers with 35 points off the bench - more points than the entire Celtics’ second unit scored (19).

MARCUS SMART

With Jaylen Brown (left calf contusion) out, Boston once again found itself in search of someone needing to step up and fill a void. Smart was that guy, finishing with a career-high 31 points which included making five 3-pointers.

We talk a lot about what Smart does defensively, and for good reason: he’s a hell of a defender.

But Smart is steadily trending towards being a solid two-way player who is showing the ability to significantly impact the game both with his shot and as we’ve seen for years, his defense.

KAWHI LEONARD

Kawhi Leonard had 28 points on 10-for-27 shooting, to go with nine rebounds. Good numbers for any player.

But here’s the thing.

Kawhi Leonard, on this night, wasn’t the best player on the floor.

That was Jayson Tatum.

Come to think of it, he wasn’t the second- best player, either.

That was Lou Williams.

And a strong case could be made that in addition to those two, Marcus Smart was just as good - or better - than Leonard.

Maybe his mind was already on the All-Star break, because the usually dominant player that we usually see on both ends of the floor, wasn’t quite himself.

Celtics-Rockets Takeaways: Too much firepower from Harden, Westbrook against C's

Celtics-Rockets Takeaways: Too much firepower from Harden, Westbrook against C's

HOUSTON -- Jaylen Brown went down with another ankle injury with 3:33 to play. 

A simple pass to Jayson Tatum from Marcus Smart was too far ahead of Tatum to save before he stepped out of bounds. 

Houston Rockets star James Harden was fouled (again) while attempting a 3-pointer moments later. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

It was that kind of game down the stretch for the Boston Celtics, whose seven-game winning streak is a thing of the past after a 116-105 loss to the Rockets on Tuesday night. 

Boston could not handle Houston’s 1-2 punch of Harden (42) and Russell Westbrook (36), who combined for 78 points.

Still, more than the points was the efficient manner in which two of the league’s most dynamic scorers generated offense.

The ending was a far cry from how the Celtics fought back one Houston surge after another most of the night to stay within striking distance. 

Harden, playing with five fouls for most of the fourth quarter, lost the ball into the hands of Kemba Walker and the Celtics made him pay with a Tatum dunk that made it a 96-94 game with 5:40 to play. 

Then, out of the Houston timeout, the Rockets got the ball back in the hands of Harden, who went to the free-throw line after officials whistled a foul on Jaylen Brown, who was guarding Harden as he attempted a 3-pointer.

Houston continued to pull away and Celtics coach Brad Stevens emptied the bench with the about two minutes left and Boston trailing, 113-98. 

JAYSON TATUM

Tatum is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, stringing together one big-time performance after another for the Celtics.

That’s not what the Celtics got out of him on Tuesday. He delivered a good-but-not-great performance against the Rockets. 

Harden was dominant as always until Tatum forced him into defending him, which led to some serious foul trouble for Harden who picked up his fifth foul with 7:43 to play. 

But Tatum was unable to lift the team from their offensive doldrums down the stretch as we have seen him do quite a bit lately. 

While you love the fact that he’s impacting the game in several areas more often, these are the games when Tatum has to play like an All-Star. 

And for far too many stretches against Houston, that didn’t happen. 

He finished with a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds while dishing out four assists. 

JAMES HARDEN

Westbrook has been on quite the scoring roll lately, but don’t get it twisted. 

Harden remains the ultimate matchup nightmare for teams and he proved as much Tuesday in a pivotal third quarter. 

Harden finished with a game-high 42 points, including 19 in a row in a third-quarter stretch which was huge in the Rockets overcoming a two-point halftime deficit to take a seven-point lead into the fourth.

That kind of offensive capability is why whoever the Rockets face in the playoffs, or whoever thinks Houston’s small-ball lineup won’t work, can never be comfortable with Harden in the building. 

He’s too talented, too lethal a scorer for an opponent to feel comfortable with a lead.

GORDON HAYWARD

For a number of stretches on Tuesday, Gordon Hayward was the catalyst that kept the Celtics afloat when points were hard to come by.

He had a team-high 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and six assists. 

It was the kind of performance Boston needed Hayward to deliver. 

Still, there was just one problem.

He didn’t get much help from the rest of Boston’s core. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Clippers-Celtics, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.