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The Clippers tried to get the better of the Celtics in L.A. once more, but with a big 3rd quarter, the Celtics beat the Clippers 99-92. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic made their Celtics debuts, and had fairly decent ones at that. Krstic got two offensive rebounds (of his six and Boston’s 14) and the game’s first points within 36 seconds. Thanks to Blake Griffin doing his thing, the Clippers gradually built a lead for themselves. 10-6, 14-8, 20-12. After a few bouts of poor shooting, Chris Kaman hit a layup with .9 seconds left to preserve the eight-point Clippers lead, 26-18.
L.A. pushed the lead to 10, 35-25, with 8:08 left in the half. And 13 with 7:10 left. Before Paul Pierce hit two free throws, the Celtics hadn’t scored in 3:08. Those free throws sparked a seven-point run, during which the Clippers didn’t score for 2:27. But thanks to free throws and two-pointers on both sides (with the obligatory Griffin dunk), the Clippers led 47-40 at the half.
Free-throw shooting for Boston cut the lead to 49-46, and they finally forced themselves back into a lead with 7:45 left in the 3rd when Krstic hit a jumper. That was all part of a 16-2 run by Boston which gave the Celtics a 62-53 lead. Another Griffin slam and some free throws allowed the Clippers to trail just 74-68 with 12 minutes to go, but the damage was done.
Boston didn’t get a field goal in the 4th until Ray Allen’s jumper put Boston up 80-75 with 8:47 remaining (and the resulting “and 1” put them up another point). Delonte West and Paul Pierce hit threes, and Glen Davis helped out too, which allowed Boston to open up a double-digit lead, 89-77. Boston didn’t score for a 2:40 stretch, but at that point, it was Kevin Garnett’s dunk that put Boston up 94-87 with 1:58 left. Free throw shooting kept the game out of reach and settled it at the 99-92 final.
Most importantly, Krstic’s 20:58 of playing time allowed Glen Davis to get some “rest” with “just” 33:08 of time. If he’s not there, Davis undoubtedly gets very tired and the team gets dragged down. Plus, Krstic’s six offensive boards at least doubled anyone else’s total on either team. Mad props to Danny Ainge for ditching the injured Perk for this big man.
He really should have stayed with the Titans and risked a lockout. In just 3:31 of playing time, Johnson didn’t attempt a single shot from the field or charity stripe. The only stats he came up with was a single rebound and -1 +/- rating. With so many centers injured, Johnson needs to do more.