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Friday, December 28, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Clippers 106, Celtics 77

By Chris Forsberg

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SportsBrandon Bass battles for position in the first half of Thursday's game in Los Angeles.
Rapid reaction after the Los Angeles Clippers throttled the Boston Celtics 106-77 on Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles:

THE NITTY GRITTY
If you elected for sleep on Thursday night, you made the right decision. Coming off one of their finest efforts of the season on Christmas Day in Brooklyn, the Celtics were absolutely dominated by the Clippers. Matt Barnes scored a game-high 21 points over 23 minutes and Jamal Crawford added 17 points, both coming off the bench for Los Angeles. Blake Griffin registered 15 points and eight rebounds, and Caron Butler chipped in 14 points for a Clippers team that shot 48.2 percent from the field. Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 16 points, but even he was a minus-13 in plus/minus on this night. Paul Pierce registered 12 points, but he was a team-worst minus-27 overall. Rajon Rondo blended into the scenery with 10 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 turnovers. Boston shot a mere 40.3 percent and turned the ball over 18 times (leading to 26 points).

TURNING POINT
The Clippers embarked on a 16-2 run early in the first quarter, opening an 18-4 lead before the TNT broadcast had even switched over from the Oklahoma City Thunder's overtime win against the Dallas Mavericks. Willie Green and DeAndre Jordan paired up for 10 points during the burst as the Clippers were 7-of-9 shooting (77.8 percent), while Boston missed six of seven shots. The Celtics trimmed the deficit to four with a little burst early in the second quarter, but Los Angeles responded with a lightning-quick 8-0 run over a 68-second span that pushed the lead back to double digits. Boston never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

SULLY GETS A FLAGRANT
Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger was tagged with a flagrant-1 for essentially preventing himself from becoming part of a Griffin poster in the third quarter. Griffin attacked on the baseline with 4:49 remaining in the period when Sullinger, avoiding the wrong end of a "SportsCenter" highlight, lunged at Griffin and fouled him hard around the neck to prevent a dunk.

WHAT IT MEANS
Welp, the Celtics can take solace in the fact that about half the league's teams have tasted defeat at the hands of the Clippers over the past month (Los Angeles has won its past 15 games against 14 different teams since Nov. 28). On the other hand, Boston was coming off one of its finest efforts of the season and this was a chance to gauge itself against the best team in basketball. The Celtics failed that test, trailing by as many as 32 points. Boston must dust itself off before visiting Golden State on Saturday. The Celtics then close out this four-game road trip in Sacramento on Sunday.