Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t have started better than it did for the Boston Celtics. They took a 23-point lead after the first quarter and built it into a 28-point one late in the second quarter. The game appeared to be well in hand, but then something happened with about five minutes to go in the second that changed that.
Kyrie Irving went down with a knee injury and had to leave the game.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 10, 2019
Boston survived until the end of the half but saw the lead slip to 21-points, 74-53. But then things quickly nosedived in the second half. The Celtics couldn’t buy a shot in the third quarter. They went 4-22 from the field and scored just 12 points.
What had looked like an insurmountable lead was down to five points, 86-81, heading into the fourth quarter.
Boston made it competitive in the fourth, but the Clippers kept attacking and took the lead following a Danilo Gallinari basket with about six minutes to play, 102-100. The Celtics kept it close after that, but the Clippers eventually pulled away to make the final 123-112.
The Clippers outscored the Celtics 75-44 after Irving went down.
The 28-point comeback was the largest in Clippers history and the biggest in the NBA over the last two seasons. It is the biggest blown lead by the Celtics since 2003. But what makes it even more concerning is that it comes on the heels of the team blowing an 18-point lead to the Lakers.
“There’s no excuses,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston after the game. “Those things happen, and we all have to pick up for that. So, I’ll go back and figure out what I can do better, what we can do better, and we’ll go from there.”
Montrezl Harrell led the way for the Clippers with 21 points off the bench. Seven other Clippers scored in double figures including Danilo Gallinari with 19 points, Landry Shamet with 17, and Lou Williams with 15.
Gordon Hayward led the Celtics with 19 points followed by Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum with 16 each.
The Clippers will try to keep the momentum going Monday night when they face the Timberwolves. Boston will try to get back on track Tuesday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers.