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Jamal Crawford-led Los Angeles Clippers rally to defeat Boston Celtics

By
Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
Jamal Crawford started hitting shots. The result was a solid second-half performance by Crawford that sparked the Los Angeles Clippers' offense and allowed them to blow past the Boston Celtics 116-102 on Monday night. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Jamal Crawford started hitting shots. The result was a solid second-half performance by Crawford that sparked the Los Angeles Clippers' offense and allowed them to blow past the Boston Celtics 116-102 on Monday night. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- LOS ANGELES -- Jamal Crawford started hitting shots. The result was a solid second-half performance by Crawford that sparked the Los Angeles Clippers' offense and allowed them to blow past the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

Blake Griffin scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and the Clippers rallied by the Celtics 116-102 at Staples Center.

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Chris Paul had 23 points, while Crawford, who made 4 of 5 from 3-point range, scored 17 of his 19 points after the break for the Clippers (38-25). Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan collected 15 points and 12 boards.

"I think when I'm aggressive, I think that kind of sets the tone," said Crawford, who hit 6 of 8 shots in the second half, including all of his 3-pointers. "It won't always be my night. It may be Austin (Rivers) or (Marreese Speights). Whoever it is, we need to play off that guy, and from there, it creates easier shots for everybody."

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Crawford said Griffin told him at halftime to keep shooting despite Crawford going 0 of 5 in the first half.

"There's times where he gets hot that you just get out of the way and let him do his thing," Griffin said. "The thing that has separated him is the plays down the stretch, when he didn't get hot, he started hitting (Jordan for dunks). Now teams can't just load up on him. Now they have to figure out how to play him."

Isaiah Thomas scored 32 points and handed out five assists for the Celtics (40-24). Marcus Smart had 21 points for Boston, while Avery Bradley added 14.

"I'm not concerned, but the way we lost tonight was unacceptable," said Thomas, who connected on 10 of 19 shots from the floor and 4 of 8 from long distance. "We lost the game in the last 15 minutes. We played a really good game until the last 15 minutes. It's the players' fault, the coaches' fault, everyone in this locker room's fault. We could have done better."

The Clippers opened the fourth quarter with a 21-9 run for a 96-80 advantage after three consecutive dunks by Jordan, the last one coming via an alley-oop pass from Crawford with 6:07 left. The Celtics were unable to get any closer than nine the rest of the way.

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"Jamal made some tremendous shots," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "That's what he does. We sent him to the free-throw line too much, and then we weren't scoring on the other end. They were able to flip the script there at the end of the third quarter."

Boston led by as much as 13 in the third after a bucket by Jae Crowder with 4:28 left in the quarter. However, the Clippers, who trailed by three at halftime, rallied with a 22-6 spurt to end the quarter with a 75-71 edge.

Griffin had 10 points in the third, while Crawford scored nine.

Los Angeles outshot Boston 53.4 percent to 41 percent overall.

Thanks in large part to Crawford, Los Angeles' bench outscored Boston's 45-33.

"I thought they outplayed us in the first half," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "They were more physical. And then I thought we turned that, and we became the more physical team in the second half. But that second unit was great, and we stuck with them a long time. That was good for us, too. Anytime we can win a game and get guys down in minutes, it is never a bad thing."

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The Celtics played without center Al Horford (sprained right elbow) for the second game in a row. Stevens said there is no timetable for Horford's return.

NOTES:

-- Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he is more amazed with the ability of Celtics 5-foot-9 PG Isaiah Thomas to convert points in the paint than any other part of his game. "I don't even know if he can see anything sometimes when he's down there, and he finishes," Rivers said.

-- Boston has a 9-6 record in the second game of back-to-back contests. The Celtics lost 109-106 at Phoenix on Sunday when Suns rookie G Tyler Ulis hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

-- Celtics F Jonas Jerebko missed the game with flu.

-- Both clubs resume play Wednesday on the road. The Celtics continue their five-game swing against the Golden State Warriors, while the Clippers visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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