In a helter skelter game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Boston Celtics lost, 111-105. After trailing by 16 early in the first quarter, Boston strong-willed themselves back and stayed relatively tight with Los Angeles for the remainder of the game. Even though the Celtics are winless in 2014, this is a game they can build on.
When I get to the bottom...
Five minutes into the game, Boston was up 10-8, but then the Clippers exploded for a sensational 18-to-0 run. The Celtics played some of the worst basketball that I've seen them play all year. They didn't get back on defense, they attempted bad passes, they took contested shots, and I'll say it once more: They didn't get back on defense. On multiple occasions, the Clippers beat the Celtics up the floor for easy layups or dunks. At this point, I'm sure many Celtics fans went to bed thinking the game was over.
I go back to the top of the slide...
But it wasn't. DeAndre Jordan subbed out of the game when the Celtics were down 28-12 with 2:30 left in the first period and the Celtics made a run. Led by Jared Sullinger, Jordan Crawford, and Jerryd Bayless, Boston came back with an inspiring 11-5 run to end the quarter. Crawford really brought a lot of energy, assisting on two baskets, and scoring five points of his own, screaming with passion after he was fouled for an and-1.
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride...
The Celtics continued to make a push and cut the lead to only one with less than 30 seconds to go in the half. Boston's backcourt continued to follow Crawford's lead, as Jerryd Bayless came off the bench and scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting. He then passed the baton to Bradley, who stayed hot through the third period. AB highlighted the comeback with a putback dunk, a four-point play, and he hit the go-ahead jumper to put the Celtics ahead for the first time since early in the game, 70-69.
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again!
Then LA made another run, building a six point lead as the game went into the fourth quarter. At that point the game wasn't out of hand for the Celtics, but everything unraveled after they helped the Clippers to a 12-2 run to start the final frame. Boston was careless with the ball and looked out of sync defensively, while Jared Sullinger picked up a Flagrant 1 foul in his second consecutive game.
When the Clippers led 100-84, Boston went on a 10-2 run to bring themselves back into the game with less than four minutes to go. Everything stayed relatively constant until late, when down seven with less than 40 seconds to go, the Celtics made a remarkable run. They played aggressive press defense, which created easy baskets in transition, but the Clippers still held on to win the game, 111-105.
Is this a moral victory?
The Celtics were down 16 early in the first quarter and stormed back to remain competitive for the rest of the game. And then, down seven with less than one minute to go, Brad Stevens rallied his troops to make one last valiant comeback, slicing the lead to only four. The small lineup on the floor -- Bradley, Bayless, Crawford, Green, Olynyk -- hustled hard while pressing full court on their way to stealing two balls -- and they almost came close to getting another but a ticky-tack foul bailed out the Clippers.
Play like that is exactly what the Celtics need if they want to win games, or come close to competing against teams like the Clippers. Tonight's game provided the team an example of what happens when you hustle and when you don't. The middle of the first quarter was an absolute disaster before Boston got back into the game with plays that were aggressive, but also cohesive. Stevens and his young team should use this game as a guideline of how to play, whether or not "moral victories" really count.
Humphries starts over Sullinger
Before the game even started, news broke that Brad Stevens was going to shake things up by starting Kris Humphries over Jared Sullinger. Whether or not this was punishment for Sullinger's two flagrant fouls on Tuesday night is unknown, but I think it's more about giving him more minutes alongside Kelly Olynyk.
Or it could be due to Sullinger's subpar play recently. He struggled once again tonight, finishing with only 2 points on 1-for-6 shooting. Against LA's huge frontcourt, he snatched only 3 rebounds in 12 minutes. Conversely, Humphries had quite a productive game in his first start of the season, totaling 6 points, 4 assists, and 8 rebounds, with 4 of them being offensive. Hump has played exceptionally as of late, and is making a strong case to stay in the starting lineup.
Celtics' backcourt impresses
Starters Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, and newcomer Jerryd Bayless, all performed fairly well, combining for 59 total points on 20-for-44 shooting. All three guards played very aggressively throughout the game by picking their spots to attack. Crawford may have played a bit of "hero ball" during portions of the game, but it was necessary for the Celtics to make any runs that they made. Sometimes a player has to take the initiative, especially when they are feeling, and tonight Crawford was that man.
Even though Brad Stevens won't have many opportunities to play the exciting trio together, he did late to spark the Celtics' final run. Alongside Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk, all five players performed very well, and I would like to see this lineup again if Boston is in need of some quick baskets.
Blake celebrates Hump Day
If you know me, you know I don't get too excited over dunks. But this unbelievable display of athleticism by Blake Griffin, a posterizing dunk over Kris Humphries, is an exception:
But it wasn't just the slam dunk for Griffin, he had an overall monster day for the Clippers. In 42 minutes, he came relatively close to accomplishing a triple-double with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. Blake got to the line 17 times after being fouled repeatedly inside, which put the Celtics into foul trouble. Punches to the body will hurt a boxer late in a match, just like foul trouble will for a basketball team.