After leading most of the game, the Boston Celtics held off a late surge from the Los Angeles Clippers and stole a narrow 106-104 victory Sunday at TD Garden.
Each team was down an All-Star point guard as both Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo missed the contest—Paul is recovering from a slight knee injury (h/t Brad Turner of the LA Times) while Rondo had a season-ending ACL tear—but the rest of the players on the court picked up the slack.
Both teams shot 50 percent or better from the field (Los Angeles at 50.6 percent and Boston at 50 percent), but it was the elite three-point shooting of the Celtics that made the difference in the game.
Led by Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Jason Terry, Boston went an astounding 11-of-18 from three-point range Sunday.
Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe led the teams in scoring with 23 points after getting the start in place of the injured Paul, but it was the elite play of the Celtics' bench that really made the difference in the game.
Boston’s bench stars scored 52 points today and outperformed a Los Angeles team that only had 29 points from its backup unit (23 points coming from Clippers' sixth man Jamal Crawford).
As dire as the Celtics injury situation looks (rookie Jared Sullinger is also out for the year), they have too much skill to just give up. This game was a perfect example of that determination, but let’s see if they can sustain it over the remainder of the season.
Player of the Game: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
While the Clippers didn’t get the win Sunday, the star of the game was backup point guard Eric Bledsoe.
The young guard was the general on the court with starter Chris Paul out with a knee injury, and Bledsoe stepped up huge with a dominant performance.
It was too bad his team didn't step up to help him.
He managed to amass 23 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and two steals in 38 minutes on the court, but the loss proves the Clippers need more out of their role players.
Up Next for Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers must find a way to get back to their winning ways after starting the season red hot, but dropping off dramatically and losing six of the team’s last eight games.
Los Angeles was without its star point guard Chris Paul Sunday, who is still not practicing with a knee injury, and it was abundantly clear that the team will need the former All-Star if it wants to make a serious postseason run.
As well as the Clippers have played this year, it is clear they lack the elite talent behind Paul, and without the veteran healthy or backup Eric Bledsoe stepping up to fill the void, the team is in trouble.
Up Next for Boston Celtics
Despite losing Rondo and Sullinger for the season, the Boston Celtics have once again rallied around each other and continue to play well.
Boston left Sunday’s matchup with the Clippers winners of four straight games, but it was the way the team has kept the course despite devastating injuries that proves the mental strength of those running the organization.
Boston has a very tough schedule ahead (Lakers twice, Nuggets twice and the Bulls in the next seven games), but it will be interesting to see how well the team can use Sunday’s win moving forward.