Celtics hang on to beat Clippers at Garden

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 26 points, and Paul George added 24 points.

Brown was out after picking up his fifth foul, and a 3-point play by White, a 3-pointer by Grant Williams, and a steal and layup by Smart gave Boston a 112-102 lead with 3:36 remaining. did. But the Clippers answered with his 8-1 run, and Leonard’s pull-up with 1:02 remaining put him within 113-110.

After Tatum removed the jumper, George got a chance to bring the Clippers even closer. White then intervened and thrashed the layup attempt. On the other side, Brown got fouled offensively on his rebound after Tatum made two more mistakes. He hit both his free throws, with Al his Horford blocking Marcus his Morris layup to seal the win.

Malcolm Brogdon and Blake Griffin missed a Celtics game due to illnesses other than COVID, while coach Joe Mazzura missed two games in a row due to corneal abrasions.

Some observations from the game:

▪ The Celtics’ perimeter pass in the first half was excellent. There were a few possessions where the ball circled around his line for three points and the player turned good looks into good looks. On one possession in the first quarter, all five players touched the ball over the arc before Horford hit a wide-open three-point shot from the right corner. On a similar second quarter play, Horford made an extra pass to Smart and Smart connected.

▪ Despite this ball move, Tatum and Brown didn’t seem very connected at first when looking at the stat sheet. In the first half, the two Celtics stars totaled 35 points and no assists. Of course, the assist can be a little erratic. Tatum set up open shooters on several possessions, but the shots just happened to miss.

▪ The Celtics got off to a poor start, going 6-0 on field goals and going scoreless for nearly three minutes. But they quickly shook it off, and a Clippers turnover stopped them from taking advantage of it.

▪ After a blistering start, Sam Hauser has cooled down considerably. He only made one of his four 3-point attempts, and in December he dropped as high as 15 of 53 (28.3%).

▪ Brown’s scoring burst has had an impact this season. And they seem to come out of nowhere. In his 90-second stretch midway through the second quarter, a tough pull-up saw him convert his play by three points, running down the lane to score a dunk and a difficult up-and-under from about 10 feet. Converted his shot. His weapons are diverse.

▪ That flurry was part of the Celtics’ 9-0 run created by last season’s starters, with Tatum and Brown joined by Robert Williams, Horford and Smart. Despite Mazura’s suggestion that Williams could be off the bench for the rest of the season, it’s hard to imagine the team not returning to this group by the time the playoffs come around.

▪ The Clippers made 7 of 21 3-pointers in the first half, but returned to the game in the third quarter with a long-range shot. They connected three in a row to start the period, went 11-for-7 in the third, and helped turn an 11-point halftime deficit into an 85-84 lead at the start of the fourth.

▪ Williams continues to make progress just two weeks into his season debut. He caused problems for the Clippers in both ends, tying early in the fourth quarter and actually drawing a foul on Paul’s nice drive against George. Moments later, Williams scored in a more traditional manner, easily dunking off a feed from White.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. follow him on twitter @adamhimmelsbach.

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