BOSTON — Chris Paul had 35 points and 13 assists, but the Los Angeles Clippers dropped their final game before the All-Star break 139-134 in overtime to the Boston Celtics in what could have been Paul Pierce's final game at the Garden.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Los Angeles Clippers faced a difficult challenge if they wanted to go undefeated on their final four-game road trip before the All-Star break.
The suddenly surging Boston Celtics had won their last seven straight games at home, and 9 of 11 overall as they have risen to third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Los Angeles knew they needed to get off to a hot start, unlike their previous two road games against the Sixers and Heat. The Clippers rebounded from their worst shooting night of the season just two days earlier in Philadelphia, and started hot, leading 37-33 after the first quarter.
Local news from across Southern California
The Celtics came out like gangbusters in the second quarter, and the Clippers struggled mightily in the second half, trailing by seven at halftime.
The Clippers trailed by double-digits in the third quarter, but Chris Paul drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to seven heading into the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles started the fourth on a 20-to-9 run to take a four-point lead and would extend it to as many as five, late in the game. Lance Stephenson sparked the rally off the bench.
It was an exciting and entertaining finish as the Clippers and Celtics traded buckets with All-Star Isaiah Thomas leading Boston down the stretch. Thomas scored 10 points in the final frame, including a game-tying jumper with 5.8 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
For the second consecutive game, the Clippers played an extra five-minutes. J.J. Redick sparked the Clippers scoring the team's first six points in overtime. But the Clippers would miss 7 free throws over the final seconds of regulation and in overtime, opening the door for the Celtics, who closed the game on a 15-to-4 run to win their eighth straight at home.
Thomas finished with 36 points and 11 assists to lead the Celtics. Jared Sullinger had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Jae Crowder added 19, and Marcus Smart scored 17 off the bench for Boston.
Paul finished with 35 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles in one of his best games of the season. The 30-year-old point guard played every minute of the second half and overtime, but will have plenty of rest as the Clippers have eight days off during the All-Star Break.
Redick scored 27 points, Jordan had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and Stephenson was stellar off the bench scoring 12 points.
Paul Pierce scored just six points and missed a game-tying three-pointer with 40 seconds left in overtime. It was just Pierce's eighth game against Boston in his career.
Isaiah Thomas game-tying jumper. After two missed free-throws by DeAndre Jordan on the opposite end, Thomas came down the court and drained a game-tying jumper with 5.8 second left to send it to overtime.
MVP OF THE GAME
Isaiah Thomas. The 5-foot, 9-inch All-Star was sensational scoring 36 points and dishing out 11 dimes.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Clippers snapped a four-game win streak over the Celtics.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
PHOTO OF THE NIGHTOldest trick in the book.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I always try and savor these moments, because you never know when it's your last." – LA Clippers forward Paul Pierce on if tonight was his last game in the Garden.
Entering the game, the Clippers had won four in a row against the Celtics … Chris Paul tied his season-high with 35 points … Paul passed Maurice Cheeks (7,392) for No. 11 on the NBA's all-time assists list … The Celtics have now won eight consecutive games at home … Blake Griffin (hand) and Austin Rivers (hand) did not play for Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Clippers (35-18, 18-10 on the road) 2nd in Pacific Division
Boston Celtics (32-23, 17-10 at home) 2nd in Atlantic Division.
The Clippers head to All-Star weekend in fourth place in the Western Conference, and return to their regular season schedule when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, February 18 at Staples Center.
The Celtics will head out on a three-game road trip that begins next Friday in Salt Lake City when they take on the Jazz at 7:30PM PST.