Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The Celtics nearly let a 19-point halftime lead slip away against the road-weary Clippers before Paul Pierce and Jason Terry sealed it up in the final minute.
In a battle of two teams each missing its All-Star point guard, the Celtics built a 19-point halftime lead then nearly let it completely slip away before escaping with a 106-104 win over the road-tripping Los Angeles Clippers on Super Bowl Sunday at the TD Garden. Paul Pierce's three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer with 2.5 seconds remaining provided the Celts with enough of a cushion to escape with their fourth straight victory.
The C's used a tremendous second quarter in which they held the Clippers to just 10 points while forcing nine turnovers to break the game open then withstood a furious Clippers' rally in the second half to hang on for the win.
It was another well balanced effort for the Celts on offense with all 10 players scoring at least one field goal, five finishing in double figures and no one except Pierce taking more than 10 shots. The Celts shot an even 50 percent for the game with Pierce leading the way with 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and hitting for 4-of-6 from long range.
Jeff Green continued his strong play of late, scoring 14 points including 3-of-3 from three-point range, and Jason Terry also continued to thrive in the absence of Rajon Rondo with 13 points and six assists, hitting a huge jumper with 1:06 to play to make it a two possession game.
Brandon Bass had nine points, eight rebounds and a career high four assists and Leandro Barbosa added 14 points off the bench for the C's, who got 52 more points from their second unit. The Celts struggled on offense in the fourth quarter with seven turnovers, clearly missing the guidance of a true point guard like Rondo, but were able to get away with it.
Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe each scored 23 and Blake Griffin added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who scored 64 points in the second half in playing their seventh straight game without point guard Chris Paul. For more on the game from the Clippers' perspective, hit up Clips Nation.