By Tristan Deschenes, 98.5 The Sports Hub
A 39-point effort from Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston on Thursday night, as the 21-year-old outdueled Kawhi Leonard and carried the Celtics to a 141-133, double-overtime win over the Clippers at TD Garden.
In what was a 48-minute battle before the overtimes, the C’s and Clips traded punch for punch.
Boston gained the lead in the fourth quarter, but it was some key makes from Lou Williams and Marcus Morris that kept L.A. alive. When a Daniel Theis putback layup with 4:18 to go in the fourth gave Boston a 107-104 lead, Williams responded to the bucket with a clutch three-pointer on the Clippers’ next possession to tie the game at 107. And after two buckets by each team, Tatum broke the 109-109 tie with a three with 2:28 to go to give Boston a 112-109 lead.
Tatum would make another clutch fadeaway jumper to keep the Celtics up 114-111 with 1:31 to go.
But Morris saved the Clippers when he grabbed the offensive rebound after a miss and knocked a big three to tie the game at 114 with 45.9 seconds to go. On the other end, Marcus Smart was stripped with 31.9 seconds to go and the Clippers had a chance to win it. But as Leonard tried to force his way into the paint, Kemba Walker drew an offensive foul.
And after taking one on the chin at the other end, Kemba had a chance to win it at the buzzer with his signature step back jumper, but he was just off, and the Celtics and Clippers were sent to overtime for the second time in as many head-to-heads.
In overtime, the Celtics and Clippers fought for every bucket.
Tatum gave Boston a 127-124 lead with 24.8 seconds on the clock after he drove right by Kawhi for the layup.
Down with 23.6 seconds left, the Clippers’ Williams was fouled shooting a three and actually knocked down the shot that would have tied the game at 127 and given Williams a chance to give Los Angeles a one point lead. The shot was waved off, however, as it was ruled that the foul occurred before the shot. But the Clippers stayed alive again when Landry Shamet dropped a contested three over Tatum to tie the game at 127 with 20.6 seconds left in overtime.
Tatum, the undeniable hot hand in Celtic Green, attempted to return the favor to Shamet with a three-point conversion of his own, but the C’s star missed the shot and the game went to a second overtime.
The attempted abuse on Shamet didn’t stop after Tatum’s miss, either, as Kemba started off double-overtime by breaking Shamet’s ankles and knocking down a stepback three to give the Celtics a 130-127 lead with 3:53 to go. Tatum then gave the C’s some separation by going right through the chest of Montrezl Harrell to finish at the bucket to put the C’s up 134-130.
That’s when Gordon Hayward, who had struggled knocking down some shots late in regulation and in the first overtime, finished it off for the Celtics, hitting a three with 1:35 left to give Boston a 137-132 lead. After knocking down two more free throws with 13.9 seconds to go, too, Hayward iced the game after stealing the inbounds pass and getting fouled with 12.3 seconds left. He would knock down both of those free throws to extend the Celtic lead to 141-132.
In addition to Tatum’s 39 points, No. 0 added nine rebounds by the night’s end. Marcus Smart also had a big night with 31 points and an absurd three, Hayward added 21 points, and Walker stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Boston did this without Jaylen Brown, too, as he did not play due to a calf contusion.
The Clippers, meanwhile, were led by their two main bench guys, as Lou Williams kept the Clippers in the game with a stellar 35-point night with eight assists. Big man Montrezl Harrell was also effective against an undersized C’s frontcourt, and scored 24 points and added 13 rebounds. Leonard (28 points and 11 rebounds) and Shamet (19 points) led the Clips’ starters, while Paul George did not play in the second half due to a hamstring injury.
The win sent Boston into the All-Star break with a 38-16 record overall, which is good for third in the Eastern Conference, while the Clippers dropped to 37-18 and head into the All-Star break on a two-game skid.
Brad Stevens and Co. will enjoy their All-Star break before they return to action on Feb. 21st against the T’Wolves.