The Celtics defeat the Clippers 107-102 in Paul Pierce's Boston farewell
The game opened with Isaiah Thomas doing more Isaiah Thomas things. The little guy had 13 of Boston's 29 first quarter points on 3/5 shooting and three assists. He was doing a whole lot of this on an unorganized Clippers defense:
Isaiah Thomas is cooking in the first quarter! pic.twitter.com/6bDAq9I5e7— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 5, 2017
The first quarter, as was the whole game, was really about the storyline of Paul Pierce returning home for one last time. The 15-year Celtic got the start courtesy of Doc Rivers and got the praise he deserved. Here is how he and the fans on their feet at TD Garden reacted when #34 was announced last for Los Angeles:
The Truth. pic.twitter.com/zd7gEHHJtA— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2017
Naturally, Pierce took the first shot of the game -- a jumper from the elbow that rattled out. When he was subbed out during a timeout five minutes into the contest, the jumbotron played an emotional tribute:
Boston rises for a tribute to Paul Pierce! 🍀#NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/shrwXhw1d0— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2017
And tears from Pierce as signs in crowd honoring him are shown on jumbotron... And now a "Thank you, Paul Pierce" chant as play resumes.— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) February 5, 2017
Meanwhile, Blake Griffin was carrying the load for the Clippers on the court with eight points and four boards. But Boston's sharpshooting from the perimeter gave them a 10 point advantage after 12 minutes.
The Celtics offense became stagnant in the second quarter with the starters on the bench. Ball movement decreased and three-point shooting fell off a cliff. The potential risks of being a three-happy team like Boston has been this season really showed throughout the whole quarter:
Still in the 2nd qtr and all 10 Celtics who have played have taken a three, and 8 of them have taken at least two.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 5, 2017
Back-to-back threes from Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford sent the Clippers on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to just two points. But the funny thing about being a three-happy team is that you can catch fire and go on very quick scoring spurts. That's exactly what the C's did at the end of the first half, as back-to-back threes from Crowder and Thomas added a quick six points to help the C's go on an 8-0 run of their own.
Boston took 30 threes in the opening half. THIRTY. They made nine of those attempts, but yea that's a lot of threes taken. They took a 9-point lead into the break, largely in thanks to 18 points and 4 assists from Isaiah:
IT4 just dropped 18 during the first half alone, propelling the Celtics ahead of the Clippers 56-47 at halftime. pic.twitter.com/ixYRPFof1w— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 5, 2017
The second half began and, surprise surprise, Boston launched eight more threes in under six minutes. Isaiah got cold from the field, so relied on his playmaking to keep making an impact:
IT finds Amir under the basket for the easy two! pic.twitter.com/aaVoiIOY4d— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 5, 2017
Griffin continued being the point forward for LA, making plays in the absence of their star guard Chris Paul:
This time, Blake gets the dime on the lob! #NBARapidReplay #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/7pgN3hOlHw— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2017
For the most part, the C's defense was very strong through the third. Al Horford locked down All-Star center DeAndre Jordan while collecting five rebounds in the quarter, and Marcus Smart shut down scoring threat JJ Redick. Horford (4), Smart (5), and Kelly Olynyk (6) combined to score all of Boston's last 15 points of the quarter, bringing their lead up to 14.
The final frame was a back-and-forth affair, with the Clippers staying somewhere between eight and 12 points behind the Celtics for much of the quarter. Every player on the court started making plays for the Celts. Horford and Smart knocked down threes and the rook had this and-1 drive to the hoop:
Jaylen Brown takes it into the paint and finishes off glass, plus the foul! pic.twitter.com/54fsOvaEtb— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 5, 2017
A 10-2 Clippers run towards the end of the game brought them back within four, but the C's held onto a big enough lead to allow Rivers to put Pierce in for his final 20 seconds at TD Garden. And then this happened:
The Truth drains one more three in Boston.#NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/KXqd7mLUXu— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2017
Alllll the feels. The Truth was not about to be held scoreless in a game at TD Garden for the first time in his career. What an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable career in Boston.
Griffin had 23/8/4 and Crawford added 23 points in LA's loss. Isaiah still managed to finish with 28 points and eight assists, Horford had 13/15/6, and five other Celtic players finished with double-digit points.
That's now seven in a row for the Celtics. They will be traveling to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Wednesday.
Thank you Paul Pierce, and go Pats baby!
Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32
Photo via @celtics