On a night when a couple of the Clippers’ new faces drew top billing, it was a pair of holdovers that wound up stealing the show. Led by a team-high 27 points from Lou Williams and a series of huge plays down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime by Patrick Beverley, the LA Clippers picked up a hard-fought 107-104 OT win over the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on Wednesday night.
The Clips’ offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders in the first game featuring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court together, but there’s plenty of time left in the season to work out the kinks. PG-13 rebounded from a so-so game on Monday to contribute 25 points on 8-18 shooting along with 8 assists and 5 rebounds. He also logged 37 minutes after playing no more than 29 in any of his first 3 games of the year.
Leonard, who returned after a 3-game absence due to a knee bruise, chimed in with 17 points on 7-20 shooting, including 3-10 from long range. Kawhi logged 38 minutes of his own, so Doc Rivers and co. clearly aren’t concerned about any lingering effects of the knee issue.
The story in the game’s latter stages was Beverley, who logged a game-high 41 minutes. He did just about everything during his time out there, tallying a total 14 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and a pair of blocks. With the Celts’ defense so focused on trying to stifle George, Leonard and Williams, Beverley found himself wide open on a number of possessions. He was up to the challenge, as all four of his makes from long distance came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Celtics were led by 30 points from Jayson Tatum, but the Clipper defense held Boston to just 39.4% shooting for the game. That strong defensive showing was capped by a crucial block from Kawhi on a 3-point attempt from the corner by Kemba Walker that would have sent the game to double-overtime as time expired on the first extra session.
Boston’s most impactful player on the night was their version of Beverley, Marcus Smart. Smart contributed 15 points and 8 assists in 40 minutes while supplying a number of key plays on both ends of the floor. The effort of Smart helped make up for brutal offensive games out of both Walker and Jaylen Brown, who combined to shoot just 7-31 from the field.
The Clippers didn’t shoot much better from the floor (41.9%), but they made a combined 7 more threes and free throws than the Celtics did. The primary factor that kept Boston alive in the game was sloppy play from LAC. The Clippers turned the ball over a season-high 23 times, which explains how the Celtics finished the game with 11 more shot attempts from the field.
This game was close throughout, though a three from Walker gave Boston a 10-point lead at 86-76 over the Clippers with half of the fourth quarter gone. The Clips slowly started to chip away from there, though, and a nice mix of defensive stops plus quick buckets - including a thunderous slam from Kawhi - got LA back into the game.
This was far from Lou’s finest game overall, but he hit big shots when it mattered. That includes a massive triple from the wing that put the Clippers ahead by a point with just over 31 seconds to play. Williams subsequently drilled a couple of free throws after pillaging the ball from Walker on the ensuing possession, but Boston was able to force overtime after Tatum canned a three of his own with 13 seconds left. Kawhi then missed what would’ve been a game-winner at the other end, which sent the game into overtime.
Ivica Zubac played pretty well in 22 minutes once again, but the Clippers struggled to protect the paint by going small for most of the game. Boston outscored LA by 20 points in the paint (52-32), but timely outside shooting helped the Clips eke out a win in the end.
The victory moves the Clippers to 10-5 on the year, including a nice 9-1 mark at Staples. The Celtics, meanwhile, drop to 11-3, with all of their losses coming away from the TD Garden.
The Clips will have a day off before welcoming James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Rockets to town on Friday night.