December 11, 2013

NBA: Clippers beat Celtics in Doc’s return

Crawford makes key basketball late in LA victory.

BOSTON (AP) – Jamal Crawford hit a pair of 3-pointers 23 seconds apart to help the Clippers pull away in the last 3 minutes and former Celtics coach Doc Rivers won his first game back in Boston when Los Angeles beat the Celtics 96-88 Wednesday night.

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Current Los Angeles Clippers head coach and former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers acknowledges fans during a video tribute to him in his first time back to the TD Garden after the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Applauding are Clippers Chris Paul, left, and Blake Griffin, far right. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

AP photo

Crawford came off the bench to score 21 points and Chris Paul had 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Blake Griffin scored 18 points for the Clippers, who won for the seventh time in 10 games.

Jeff Green scored 29 points against his former coach, who was traded to Los Angeles last summer for a first-round draft pick. Jordan Crawford had 20 points and nine assists, and Brandon Bass had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost their second in a row.

Boston lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, kicking off a reunion week of sorts by facing former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. One night later, Rivers returned to the TD Garden, where the banner for the franchise’s unprecedented 17th NBA title hangs from the rafters.

Rivers got a standing ovation when he walked onto the court for warm-ups, another healthy cheer when he was introduced and a bigger one after a video on the scoreboard ended with, “Thank you, Doc!”

“I’m an emotional guy,” Rivers said beforehand. “I just hope I can coach tonight.”

Rivers did just fine, getting 34 points from his bench to just four for Boston’s. The Celtics led by as many as nine points in the first half, but the Clippers erased it in a back-and-forth third quarter in which the lead changed hands five times.

Los Angeles led 73-71 midway through the fourth quarter when Darren Collison scored six straight points. The Clippers had an 85-83 lead with under 3 minutes when Crawford made back-to-back 3 pointers. Boston cut it to five, but never got closer.

The Celtics opened a nine-point lead late in the half, but took a 45-39 lead into the break. The teams traded leads in the third quarter, which ended with the Clippers ahead 66-64.

NOTES: DeAndre Jordan caused a jump ball in the first half when he tried a slam dunk but got it caught between the rim and the backboard. ... The Clippers continue reunion week Thursday night when Rivers faces his former Celtics players Garnett and Pierce in Brooklyn. ... Clippers F Antawn Jamison scored his 20,000th point. He is one of 20 players in NBA history to have 20,000 points along with 8,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. ... The Celtics got their first points from the bench with 2 minutes left in the third quarter on a Gerald Wallace layup. ... Boston F Kris Humphries sat out with a bruised right knee.

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