Boston scored 54 points in the paint in the Celtics’ 116-110 victory over the Clippers, frequently taking advantage of Los Angeles’ lack of defence, hitting the gap, and finishing at the hoop.
As the hosts drove and booted their way from obtaining excellent shots to producing better ones, assisting on 22/44 field goals while shooting 48.4 percent from the field, doing so also helped the defence get into rotation.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both scored a game-high 29 points in the victory, outscoring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who each scored 26 and 24.
Marcus Smart finished with 17 points, nine assists, a game-high, and two steals. Derrick White also put on a standout two-way performance for the Celtics, with 15 points, four assists, and two remarkable blocks, including one that stopped Paul George at the basket to help secure the victory.
Jayson Tatum moves to second all-time in made 3PT for the drain of the game!
Presented by John’s Sewer and Drain Cleaning pic.twitter.com/xrRg9DElnv
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 30, 2022
As he gains endurance and can remain on the court for longer stretches, Robert Williams, who played alongside Al Horford for the first time this season, is starting to have a bigger impact.
Off the bench, The Timelord contributed 12 points, six rebounds, four on offence, and a block.
Here’s a closer look at the highlights from each quarter as Boston won for the fourth time in a row to revenge its loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
In the opening frame, the Celtics were the more active and motivated team.
Marcus Morris’ missed three-point attempt was converted into a layup by Derrick White five minutes into the game. He accidentally elbowed Reggie Jackson in the face when he euro-stepped toward the rim.
Jackson was examined by the Clippers’ training staff before getting up and rushing the Boston bench, which led to a technical. He then proceeded to walk into the tunnel.
In the first frame, Los Angeles also lost Nicolas Batum due to an ankle injury.
For example, Marcus Smart recovered a possession when nothing happened by sprinting past the less powerful John Wall for a layup. He started Ivica Zubac’s spin cycle a minute earlier.
In addition to Jaylen Brown getting to his left elbow and ascending for a mid-range shot and outstanding ball movement, working the ball around the perimeter, leading to an Al Horford three-pointer from the corner, Smart’s basket at the basket was part of a 13-2 run by the home team. Boston now leads 24–15 as a result.
Even though Damon Stoudamire brought in Robert Williams for the final two minutes to give the Celtics some vigour to end the quarter, Los Angeles still scored 11 points in a row, including a Norman Powell three-pointer.
Powell’s basket reduced Boston’s advantage to one going into the second quarter, 27-26.
The second quarter featured the Celtics at their best.
As Jayson Tatum blocked Powell’s effort to make a basket and Robert Williams rushed from behind to forcefully deny Zubac’s put-back attempt, the second quarter was off to a Boston block party start.
Additionally, during the Clippers’ subsequent possession, a transition opportunity presented itself when Zubac blocked Tatum, leaving White on an island with Wall approaching at full speed. Wall was lying out of bounds on the baseline when White not only remained with him but also blocked his shot before throwing it off of him.
That set the tone for a stretch in which the Celtics scored 33 points while limiting their visitors to just 23. Boston significantly outperformed its guests.
Through a Robert Williams put-back on a failed shot by Tatum, the hosts also paid tribute to Powell’s buzzer-beater. As a result, the Celtics led 60-49 at the break.
Williams, who joined Horford on the court in the second half for the first time this year, helped keep Los Angeles’ field goal percentage at 36 percent. Williams scored six points and pulled down as many rebounds, including four on the offensive glass.
Tatum scored 12 points during the period, taking advantage of three midrange scoring opportunities. With 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting at the half, he had the most points among all scorers.
Brown scored 15 points in the first 24 minutes while shooting 6/12 from the field and 0/3 from beyond the arc. Brown created nine points in the second quarter.
Paul George had nine points and four assists for the Clippers, while Kawhi Leonard contributed 15 points and six rebounds.