Nenad, your hustle just wasn't enough tonight.
Thankfully my significant other made me a delicious dinner, so I saw Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 5:22 left in the first and didn't return until around 4 minutes left in the second. It is fortunate because when I left the Celtics were down 15-13, and when I returned the Celtics were down 48-32.
The first quarter really was the story though, because after that the Celtics out scored the Clippers 86-78, holding the Clips to only 16 points in the third frame. That first quarter though, I'm told, was brutal.
DeAndre Jordan and Mo Williams led the attack for the Clippers, and the Celtics for whatever reason, really had no answer. They didn't close out of Mo Williams's 3pt attempts for really the entire game, and you really felt like Rajon Rondo was outclassed a lot of the time he was on the floor tonight (Williams finished with 28 points, going 5-7 from deep). Inside the paint DeAndre Jordan pretty much had a dunk parade, getting 21 points on 9-10 shooting and I don't remember seeing one shot outside the circle.
For the Celtics, some important guys just weren't there for them consistently tonight. Kevin Garnett's shot was off (5-19 from the floor, 16 points total), Rajon Rondo was just a non-factor for a large part of the game (I believe he only had 2 assists well into the third, but he finished with a respectable 13 points, 7 rebs, 9 assists), and new guy Jeff Green followed up a couple of really solid games with a stinker, managing only 6 points in 22 minutes, and throwing up two real momentum killing 3pt attempts late in the game.
But, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Celtics. Nenad Krstic, while not the defensive anchor you'd hope for from a KG-era Celtics center, had an impressive 20 point performance on an efficient 7-10 shooting night, and unlike DeAndre Jordan, he scored from everywhere within the 3pt line. Ray Allen also had a quiet but needed 23 point performance, and Paul Pierce had a 19 point, 4 rebound, 6 assist performance that can only be called 'valiant', as he looked at times to be the only guy in green that was really upset at deficits that got to 20 points. Also, Carlos Arroyo, despite not really killing the stat line, looked pretty solid tonight. I think he will find a real place in the rotation here. A steadying influence.
In the end though the initial hole the Celtics got themselves into was just too significant. When the Celtics got within 9 points at 7:47 left in the 4th, it was the closest the score had gotten since 3 minutes left in the 1st. I loved the Celtics hustle tonight in the 4th, but it would've helped a lot more if that same hustle had been there at tip-off.