Rapid Reaction: Celtics 106, Clippers 104

February, 3, 2013
2/03/13
1:14
PM PT


BOSTON -- As he leaned against the wall outside of the visiting locker room at TD Garden, Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro joked that it must have been something in Canada that sapped his team of their energy in Friday’s embarrassing 98-73 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Del Negro wasn’t able to lean on that excuse after Sunday’s 106-104 loss to the Boston Celtics. It was hard to top the Clippers’ ineptitude on offense against Toronto, but through three quarters in Boston on Sunday afternoon, the Clippers somehow did just that, even scoring a season-low 10 points in the second quarter.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Offensive offense

It’s understandable that the Clippers’ offense will not be the same well-oiled machine that it was when Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups were starting in the backcourt. You simply can’t lose those guys and expect the same efficiency. But there’s no excuse for the way the Clippers have played on offense the past two games. They made the 16-30 Raptors and the 23-23 Celtics, who are playing without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, look like world beaters. The Clippers scored a combined 23 points during the second quarters of the past two games, shooting 21 percent (7-for-33) from the field. Not helping matters on offense in Boston is that the Clippers had 21 turnovers in the game -- nine in the second quarter alone -- which led to 33 points for the Celtics.

A tribe called what?

The Clippers’ bench has been one of the more consistent aspects of the team. Complete with their A Tribe Called Bench nickname and caricature T-shirts, they have become the team’s X factors. Over the past two games, they’ve been nonfactors. The Celtics' bench outscored the Clippers’ bench 52-29 and held a 40-13 advantage through three quarters. Matt Barnes, who served a one-game suspension Friday, finished with no points. Jamal Crawford, who started the game wearing a facemask to protect the fractured nose he suffered on Friday, finished with 23 points. Lamar Odom was the only other bench scorer, finishing with six points.

Defensive lapses

Probably the most disturbing trend over the past two games has been the Clippers’ inability to defend. They gave up 98 points to the Raptors and 106 to the Celtics. Worse, they allowed the Celtics to hit 10-of-14 from beyond the arc through three quarters and shoot 53.4 percent from the field during that time. The Clippers were able to rally in the fourth quarter and make it a one-possession game. But perhaps if they had played some defense in the first three quarters, there wouldn’t have been a need to come back from 19 points down in the final quarter. Maybe they can build off that mini-comeback when they face the Washington Wizards on Monday. They certainly didn’t give themselves much of anything to build on when they lost to Toronto by 25 points.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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