Boston Celtics

Dec 29, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; LA Clippers guard Keon Johnson (45) reaches in to knock the ball away from Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) during the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics returned to TD Garden Wednesday night, looking to right the ship after losing seven of their last ten and falling two games under .500.

Make it eight of eleven. And three games under.

While the Green have recently experienced a roster crunch due to COVID-19, the Los Angeles Clippers have had some injuries and players in health and safety protocols, too. On Wednesday, the Celtics made more shots, outrebounded the Clippers, dished out more assists, and took better care of the ball. But LA shot a passable 11-for-28 from behind the arc, while the Celtics clanged away at a 4-for-42 clip.

The result: a 91-82 loss for Boston.

It was a topsy-turvy affair from the early going. A 13-2 run put the Clippers up double digits in the first quarter. But the Celtics ripped off a 20-4 run to take a six-point lead in the second. They then went five minutes without a basket, and closed the half making just three of their last 17 field goal attempts.

LA held a seven-point lead at halftime, 47-40.

Boston put together a 12-2 run in the third quarter to tie the game, but the Clips again wiggled away and held a six-point lead after three. While LA’s zone defense frustrated the Celtics at times, the Green just couldn’t make open shots.

Jaylen Brown paced the C’s with 30 points on 13-for-36 shooting (1-for-13 from downtown). Rob Williams had 16 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, while Al Horford filled up the box score with nine points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and three blocks.

The Clippers were led by Marcus Morris with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Eric Bledsoe, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard chipped in 17 apiece.

The Celtics were without Marcus Smart due to injury (lacerated hand), while Jayson Tatum, Denis Schröder, Enes Freedom and several others missed the game in health and safety protocols. The Clippers were missing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, with Reggie Jackson and three other players in COVID protocols.

Boston is now 16-19 on the season. The Clippers are 18-17.

The Celtics host the Suns in their traditional New Year’s Eve matinee. It’s a 1:00 p.m. tip Friday afternoon on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.