Celtics vs. Clippers takeaways: The Jays win battle of star duos: The Boston Celtics exacted revenge on the Los Angeles Clippers with a hard-fought win on Thursday night.
After falling to the Clippers in L.A. earlier this month, the C’s treated the TD Garden crowd to a 116-110 triumph in the rematch. The victory extends their win streak to four games and gets the bitter taste out of their mouths from their three-game losing skid to begin the homestand.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led Boston with 29 points apiece. With Malcolm Brogdon (illness) out, Marcus Smart and Derrick White held down the backcourt with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Here are our takeaways from the Celtics’ win, which brings them to 26-10 on the season. Next, they’ll open the new year with a Sunday night matchup vs. the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets.
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Celtics vs. Clippers takeaways: The Jays win battle of star duos
The Jays win battle of the wings
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George won Round 1 against Tatum and Brown earlier this month, but the Jays evened the score with a statement performance on Thursday. C’s great Kevin Garnett took notice.
Indeed, they finished the job.
Tatum notched 29 points (10-26 FG) to go with 11 rebounds. Though he could have been more efficient from beyond the arc (3-11 3-PT), the 24-year-old made his shots when his team needed him most. He dropped 20 in the first half to keep Boston in the game and while he was at it, he passed Antoine Walker for second place on the Celtics’ all-time 3-point list.
Brown stayed hot with his fourth straight 29+ point performance. His aggressiveness in the fourth quarter was a big reason the C’s were able to hold on and escape with the victory.
He finished 12-of-25 from the floor and added seven rebounds.
Kawhi Leonard (26 points) and Paul George (24 points) didn’t make it easy, but the Jays won Round 2 by unanimous decision.
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Both Williams’ add a spark off the bench
Celtics vs. Clippers takeaways: The Jays win battle of star duos: Once again, Robert Williams showed he’s back to full strength with a strong performance off the bench. He tallied 12 points in 21 minutes while bringing down six boards. He also had a block and looked spry with his lone steal.
Grant Williams attempted only one shot the entire game, but he made it count. He drilled a 3-pointer to extend the Celtics’ lead to eight with less than four minutes remaining. Where he really made his presence felt, however, was on the defensive end.
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Williams’ hustle was a difference-maker and it undoubtedly gave Boston a boost when it needed it in the second half. One play that stood out was his hard-fought rebound and pass to Smart, which set up a Sam Hauser 3-pointer on the other end.
He finished the night with 10 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Derrick White the unsung hero
Celtics vs. Clippers takeaways: The Jays win battle of star duos:The Jays will steal the headlines, but White deserves his flowers for what one could argue was a game-saving performance. On top of his 15 points and four assists, White delivered the play of the game when he swatted away George’s layup attempt in crunch time.
It was getting scary for the C’s in the final minutes as running out the clock nearly came back to bite them. White’s block, which prevented the Clippers from cutting the deficit to one with 30 seconds left, was as clutch as it gets.
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C’s ball movement is a sight to see
The Celtics offense is at its best when the ball is moving, and it certainly was in Thursday night’s win. Especially early on.
Smart was at the center of it all. The veteran guard dished a game-high nine assists, continuing his stellar playmaking this season. He’s averaging 7.4 assists through 32 games.
When Smart’s passing is at this level, and the Jays play up to their potential, the Celtics are a nightmare to face. Teams have found that out the hard way during this four-game win streak.