The Boston Celtics find themselves riding a three-game losing streak into the All-Star break following a 129-119 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers returned the Garden for the second time in matter of days, but this time he brought along a familiar face in Avery Bradley, who was making his third appearance against his former team this season.
The offensive woes continued for the Celtics as they opened the final game of a three-game homestand, with a lack luster 3-for-11 from the field, while falling behind 14-7.
By the end of the first, the Celtics were trailing the Clips 34-25. And DeAndre Jordan was already nearing a double-double, with 11 points and seven boards.
At one point they were shooting below 25 percent from the field but they turned it around to go on a 12-to-2 run in the final 1:52 to close out the second.
Rozier III came up big with another buzzer beater, bringing the C’s within four at the end of the half.
Rozier hits at the horn! pic.twitter.com/FUM1Kct5dk
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 15, 2018
The Clippers took a 61-57 lead into the third but that didn’t last long as the C’s run continued into the second half.
Marcus Morris and the Celtics finally took their first lead of the game almost two minutes into the quarter after Kyrie Irving knocked down a pair of free throws, while on a 20-to-4 run.
Aron Baynes found himself hitting the bench almost halfway through the third after picking up his fifth personal foul.
Zolak & Bertrand [AUDIO]: Brad Stevens Joins The Show To Talk All Things Celtics
The Clippers regained the lead through the better half of the third and maintained it to close out the third, 93-91.
But with Irving knocking down threes and the C’s exchanging buckets down the stretch, they were able to keep it a two-point game to end the quarter.
Irving scored 15 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter. And Morris already had himself a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds to start the fourth.
There was plenty of back and forth scoring to start the fourth, but it was Rozier III who put the C’s up 99-95 two minutes into the fourth, after knocking down another three-pointer, giving them their largest lead of the night.
Lou Williams responded with a three of his own, plus a basket and an and-one after a C’s miss, to give the lead back Clippers, 101-99.
— NBA (@NBA) February 15, 2018
The Clippers never looked back after the taking the lead with more than nine minutes to play in the fourth and would go onto win 129-119.
Irving led all scorers with 33 points (5-7 3PT) and eight assists.
Morris had himself a double-double off the bench with 13 points (4-8 FG) and 11 rebounds. And as a team, the Celtics shot 43 percent from the field and impressive 48 percent from three, knocking down 15-of-31 attempts from deep.
Following the game, coach Brad Steven had this say:
Coach Stevens is not accepting fatigue as an excuse. He hopes the team comes back ready to compete and will use his break to see what improvements are needed for the rest of the season.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 15, 2018
All five starting Clippers scored in double-digits, with Jordan finishing with a career-high 33 points and 13 rebounds. And Tobias Harris, who dropped 31 points on the C’s while with the Detroit Pistons back in November on Cyber Monday, finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
With a lack of defense and protection in the paint (56 points in the paint) by the Celtics, the Clippers’ 129 points on 50 percent shooting, marks the highest point total the C's have given up all year. It was previously set at 126 points, which was given up last Sunday against Cleveland.
It’ll be a while before the C’s return home to the TD Garden. Tonight’s game marked the final of a three-game home stand before heading on a two-game road trip following the All-Star break.
You’ll be able to catch Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum competing on the “U.S. Team” in the NBA Rising Stars game this Friday night at 9:00 p.m. on TNT.
Kyrie Irving was drafted by LeBron James and will start in the NBA All-Star Game for “Team LeBron” and he’ll faceoff against his teammate Al Horford, who’s on “Team Steph.” The All-Star Game is set to tip-off this Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. on TNT.
— NBA (@NBA) January 26, 2018
UP NEXT: The Celtics (40-19) will play the first of back-to-back road games next Friday, February 24, against the Detroit Pistons (28-29). Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m.
-- By John 'The Dude' Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com