Pierce guides Celtics past Clippers
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce finished with 22 points, including the game-sealing 3-pointer in the closing seconds, as the Boston Celtics held off the Los Angeles Clippers, 106-104, at TD Garden.
Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa added 14 points apiece, Jason Terry netted 13 with six assists and Kevin Garnett posted 12 points and five rebounds for Boston, which won its fourth straight game.
"Balance is the formula for our success, you know we got to do it by committee," said Terry. "We got to make sure everyone gets involved and everybody's into the game."
Eric Bledsoe had 23 points and 10 assists, while Blake Griffin had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who have dropped two in a row and six of their last eight overall. Jamal Crawford poured in 23 points and Caron Butler finished with 18 in defeat.
The Clippers trailed, 92-77, entering the fourth quarter after falling behind by as many as 19 points on several occasions over the second and third quarters, but opened the final frame with a 21-9 run to get back within 101-98 on Crawford's layup with just over three minutes left in the game.
Crawford then had a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer following a Courtney Lee turnover at the other end, but his attempt from the top of the key rimmed out.
The teams would trade a Terry fadeaway jumper and a Bledsoe 3-pointer to make it a 103-101 game with 56 seconds to play, but an offensive foul on Crawford after a missed Terry three gave the ball back to Boston with 26.6 seconds remaining.
Los Angeles, however, decided not to foul on the Celtics' ensuing possession and Pierce let the shot clock run all the way down before drilling a triple from the left wing for a 106-101 lead with 2.5 seconds showing on the clock.
Crawford's 3-pointer at the buzzer accounted for the final margin.
"I thought we fought back well," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "They made some tough shots, which sometimes you expect. Paul hit a big three obviously, but you know we battled, we had our chances and we just weren't able to execute there down the stretch."
The Celtics battled back from an early 11-6 deficit to knot the game at 15 on consecutive baskets by Pierce and Garnett, but they could not take the lead until Terry later capped a string of six straight points with a shot from beyond the arc to hand Boston a 25-23 advantage with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.
Boston held a 33-30 edge heading into the second, and then netted the first six points of the frame as the Clippers failed to record a basket for over four minutes to stretch its lead up to nine.
Lamar Odom's jumper snapped the drought for Los Angeles, but the Clippers' offense remained cold in the frame as the Celtics recorded the next six points to go on top by double digits, 45-32.
The Clippers would get no closer than 11 points for the remainder of the first half as Boston outscored them, 26-10, in the second quarter while Los Angeles shot just 4-for-18 from the floor and 0-for-5 from three-point range en route to a 59-40 deficit at the break.
Los Angeles opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to get back within 59-48, but could not get within single digits and fell behind by as much as 19 points before Barbosa's runner at the buzzer gave the Celtics a 92-77 advantage heading into the fourth.
Clippers guard Chris Paul missed his seventh straight game with a bruised right kneecap ... Los Angeles fell to 4-11 in its last 15 trips to Boston ... The Clippers held a 41-29 advantage on the glass ... Boston scored 33 points off 21 Los Angeles turnovers ... The Celtics turned the ball over 17 times, resulting in 17 Clipper points.
02/03 17:26:05 ET