Every time the Clippers play the Celtics, fun things happen. Three weeks ago, it was Brandon Boston Jr.’s coming out party against his namesake team, and Wednesday night, with the injury reports potentially longer than the active lists, the two teams still delivered an entertaining back-and-forth affair.
The first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter were played within six points. Eric Bledsoe’s 3-pointer with 2:05 to play in the game stretched the lead to eight, and the Clippers held on from there to win 91-82. It was fitting that a triple was the deciding factor, as the Clippers shot 11-of-28 from distance while the Celtics only made 4-of-42.
And yet, the best Clipper was one who didn’t make any threes. Marcus Morris Sr. had his way against his former team, scoring 23 points to lead four Clippers in double digits.
Morris did his work mostly with the starting unit, dropping 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the first half. He was bringing the ball up and creating from everywhere on the court — the only thing that wasn’t working for him was his three ball, as he missed all three attempts from distance. Ty Lue said pregame that Morris scoring at this level makes the Clippers a different team, and that the group needs his leadership with so many other veterans missing. Morris set the tone early, and the other Clippers followed.
Terance Mann had a nice outing in his hometown, scoring 10 points and getting the Clippers going in transition. Luke Kennard added nine as well in the first half, as he and Mann both finished with 17.
The Clippers struggled when Morris sat, but they really struggled when Eric Bledsoe was off the court. The team doesn’t have another primary ball handler, and the second unit has missed Isaiah Hartenstein’s playmaking. Lue went with Xavier Moon as the backup point guard instead of Keon Johnson, but Moon was hardly any better than the 2021 first-round draft pick.
Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown got to lead the Celtics backups, and he thrived as the lone All-Star on the court, erasing a double-digit LA lead to put Boston up six. The Clippers starters came back in and got the team up seven at halftime.
The third quarter followed a similar script as the Clippers built another double-digit advantage, but let the Celtics right back into it, as turnovers were the culprit this time. Lue switched up his substitution patterns in the second half, playing Moon and Justise Winslow with three starters to limit the Agua Caliente Clipper’s creation responsibilities. That helped the Clippers stay afloat, until the Bledsoe lineups oddly faltered in the fourth, which set up the barnburner down the stretch.