First impressions: Celtics 95, Clippers 89

BOSTON -- Instant reaction after the Boston Celtics posted a 95-89 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night at the TD Garden:

How the game was won: Paul Pierce registered a team-high 22 points, while Rajon Rondo logged a double-double (16 points, 12 assists) as the Celtics fended off a late charge from the Clippers. Boston limited Los Angeles to 38.8 percent shooting (31 of 80 overall) from the field, but still had to rally from a small halftime deficit. Rasual Butler paced the Clippers with 17 points in a game-high 44 minutes.

Turning point: The Celtics led by five coming out of the third quarter and Rasheed Wallace buried a 3-pointer on the first trip down. Tony Allen followed soon after with a pair of layups as Boston's lead ballooned to double digits at 71-61 and the Clippers never rallied closer than four the rest of the way.

Stat of the game: The Celtics connected on 23 of 34 free-throw attempts, but struggled mightily at the charity stripe early in the game. Pierce might have saved the Celtics and their free-throw percentage, by connecting on all 11 free throws he attempted.

Unsung hero: The starting 5 carried the Celtics on a night their bench combined for a mere 16 points on 7 of 20 shooting.

What it means:The Celtics put together back-to-back wins for the first time since the start of the month (Jan. 2 vs. Toronto and Jan. 6 vs. Miami) and enter a challenging stretch with a bit of momentum fueled by the return of Kevin Garnett. Boston travels for a back-to-back later this week in Orlando and Atlanta, before returning home for a nationally televised Sunday showdown with Los Angeles' other basketball squad.

Related reading: Box Score | Play by Play