BOSTON (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers have responded quite nicely to a pair of disappointing losses to Western Conference contenders.
J.J. Redick scored 27 points, Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists, and the Clippers beat the Boston Celtics 119-106 on Sunday for their seventh consecutive win.
On March 13, the Clippers — minus Blake Griffin — lost 129-99 in Dallas. Then they dropped a home game against Houston two days later, 100-98.
Since then, it’s been nothing but wins, including four double-digit road victories
“Our offensive execution is amazing and our defense has held teams to 16- and 18-point quarters,” Paul said. “With Blake back, he makes us that much more dangerous and you have to pick your poison.”
Griffin had 21 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles, which jumped out to a 68-47 halftime lead. DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Matt Barnes scored 18 points.
Boston dropped a half-game behind Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers earlier Sunday.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points. Tyler Zeller had 16, Kelly Olynyk finished with 14 and Brandon Bass scored 13.
“We didn’t provide any defensive resistance at all, nobody at all has against them lately if you look at their scores,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Los Angeles pushed its advantage to 35 points midway into the third quarter. Boston made a late charge, closing to 111-100 on Gigi Datome’s 3-pointer with 4 minutes to play, but the Clippers responded with five straight points.
“Our ball movement is sensational right now,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “We haven’t been a great travel team up until now. We had amazing focus when we left on this trip. They felt like these are the games we can get.”
Los Angeles got off to a fast start, with Redick and Barnes connecting from long range on its first two possessions. The second half had a similar start, with Barnes and Redick each making a 3 to help spark a 14-4 run that pushed the Clippers’ lead to 82-51.
“They played well, made a lot of shots early and kind of got us out of what we were trying to do, and then ran away with it,” Olynyk said.
Los Angeles led 105-79 after three.
At that point, most of the crowd seemed bored and some were chanting for former Celtic Brian Scalabrine, now one of the team’s TV analysts. A number of fans started heading for the exits during a timeout with just under 9 minutes to play.
The game was delayed for about five minutes late in the fourth quarter when a fan needed medical attention near the Clippers’ bench and was attended to by a Celtics team physician.
“From what I was told they think the person’s going to be OK,” Stevens said.
Clippers: Los Angeles was perfect on a three-game East Coast swing, winning by an average margin of 21.7 points. … Former Boston coach Rivers improved to 4-0 against the Celtics since joining the Clippers.
Celtics: Stevens was impressed with how Los Angeles was playing. “If you don’t match (intensity) you get blown out and they’re capable of blowing anybody out anyway,” he said before the game. “I hadn’t watched the Clippers much until this week. I think they’re on a level with the elite. These guys are playing really well.”
The Clippers’ next game is against the NBA’s best team, Golden State, at home on Tuesday.
“Don’t really value regular-season games,” Rivers said. “Playoffs, everybody has had the same amount of rest. But it will be a measuring stick and should be fun.”
MOVE ON QUICKLY
Boston faces Charlotte in a key game on Monday. The Celtics are in a pack of teams fighting for one of the East’s final two playoff spots.
“Pretty much a must-win game for us,” Zeller said. “It’s a playoff game against one of the team’s we’re battling against. We have to be ready.”
Boston kept fouling Jordan when it made its fourth-quarter run. He missed six straight free-throw attempts before hitting one. Then he missed the next. He finished 3 for 15.
Clippers: Host Golden State on Tuesday.
Celtics: At Charlotte on Monday.