Celtics outlast Clippers in OT thriller
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics blew a 13-point, third-quarter lead but then rallied from behind, forced overtime and defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 139-134 in a wild one on Wednesday night.
Boston guard Evan Turner scored seven consecutive overtime points for his team as the Celtics, who trailed by six with 3:18 in regulation and again by six when guard J.J. Redick opened OT with six straight points, came back again. They stormed to their eighth straight home win and their 10th in their past 12 games overall as both teams hit the All-Star break.
The loss, Clippers coach Doc Rivers' first in five games against his old team, kept Los Angeles from completing a sweep of its four-game road. It also spoiled the latest TD Garden return of Celtics great Paul Pierce, the forward scoring just six points.
Turner, who continues to be a spark off the Boston bench, finished with 14 points, six assists and six rebounds. His heroics gave the Celtics (32-23) a three-point lead with 58 seconds left in OT, a margin that stood when Clippers guard Jamal Crawford saw a 3-point heave spin in and out. Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds left.
The Celtics were short-handed, with forwards Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) and Amir Johnson (back) unavailable, Olynyk getting hurt in the first half and Johnson playing some but on the bench with a wrap around his back.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas, presented with his All-Star jersey before the game, scored 36 points and dished out 11 assists. Forward Jared Sullinger had 21 points and 11 rebounds, forward Jae Crowder 19 points and eight rebounds, and guards Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart 18 and 17 points, respectively. Both Crowder and Smart fouled out.
Clippers guard Chris Paul scored 23 of his 35 points in the second half and had 13 assists. Redick scored 27, and center DeAndre Jordan had 21 points and 16 rebounds. Crawford contributed 18 points for Los Angeles (35-18).
The Clippers, who fell to 18-5 without injured forward Blake Griffin, hurt their cause by missing five free throws in OT.
Down seven at the end of the third quarter, the Clippers rode guards Paul, Crawford and Lance Stephenson to a 27-13 run to grab a six-point lead with 3:18 left. However, the Celtics rallied and tied the game on a pair of jumpers by Thomas, who was, for some reason, being guarded by Jordan. The Los Angeles center missed two free throws in between the Thomas baskets.
The second Thomas shot tied in with 5.8 seconds left, and Paul then missed a jumper as time expired.
Pierce ended a rather defenseless first half by sinking a shot from three-quarters court, but it was well after the buzzer and the half ended with the Celtics up by seven after scoring 38 points in the quarter.
It was the second time this week the Celtics cleared the 70-point mark in the first half. They scored 74 in the first half in their 128-119 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
The Celtics used the hack-a-Jordan twice in the first half, but the center ruined the strategy by hitting all four free throws. He did miss both on a conventional trip to the line and had 13 points and seven rebounds in the half.
NOTES: F Blake Griffin, who missed his 23rd straight game with quad and hand injuries, received a four-game suspension from the Clippers after breaking his hand while punching the team's equipment manager. The suspension will be served when Griffin is ready to return. ... Clippers F Paul Pierce, making another return to Boston where his No. 34 will one day hang from the rafters, said before the game that this "could be" his last visit to TD Garden. He has two years left on his contract. Pierce and Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers, Boston's former coach, received huge ovations during introductions. ... The Celtics begin a three-game trip after the All-Star Game break.