Whew! It looked like it might have been the end of Paul Pierce's career for a few frightening moments Monday night at Staples Center before the veteran forward walked off the court under his own power and the Clippers finished off the Boston Celtics for a 114-90 victory. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. Pierce avoided serious injury. He could miss a few games or more after spraining his right ankle and bruising his right knee while falling awkwardly on a layup in the second quarter, but Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said the veteran forward's injuries were not season-threatening. That's great news considering he looked spry against his former team with eight points in only 11 minutes.
2. Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan got to sit out another fourth quarter. Both players notched double-doubles in only three quarters and Paul has played less than 30 minutes in back-to-back games for the first time all season. It's the kind of rest the Clippers would like to get their top players more regularly in the weeks before the playoffs.
3. The Clippers' defense has sparked its three-game winning streak. They've allowed only 91.3 points per game over that stretch and held the Celtics to 34.8% shooting during one of their easier victories of the season.
4. The Clippers' reserves were first-rate. It isn't often you see a team's reserves outscore its starters by 20 points in a victory, but that's exactly what happened for the Clippers against the Celtics. Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Green and Wesley Johnson all scored in double figures and even seldom-used Jeff Ayres got on the board with a couple of jumpers once Rivers cleared his bench in the final minutes.
5. It's back to the road for the Clippers. They will face a short but difficult trip with back-to-back games against improving Minnesota and playoff-bound Oklahoma City. The Clippers went 1-4 on their most recent trip, so they'll hope to at least go .500 on their final multi-game trip of the season (not counting a road game against the Lakers next week at Staples Center that precedes a game against Utah in Salt Lake City).