The Clippers did not have a magic formula for the Boston Celtics.
Whether it was the Celtics’ three-point shooting and rebounding or their own careless ballhandling, the Clippers never figured out how to take control of the game during a 113-102 defeat to the Celtics before 19,430 at Staples Center on Wednesday night.
“I thought we came to play,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “For the first time in a while, I thought they got a little despondent about their ball movement and their attacking. They have so many athletes. ... They were like really targeting some of our guys with foot speed. I thought offensively we were average too tonight.”
The Clippers watched the Celtics put up 40 three-pointers and make 14, the one by Marcus Morris that gave Boston a 108-92 lead being the dagger.
The Clippers watched the Celtics outrebound them 47-40, with 10 coming on the offensive end.
And the Clippers were too sloppy with the basketball, turning it over 19 times.
As a result, the Clippers lost their third straight game and dropped below .500 at 23-24.
“I thought we could have played better,” Rivers said. “I thought defensively we didn’t do a lot of things that I would like for us to do. It still would have been hard.”
It was a rough shooting night for Blake Griffin and Lou Williams, the Clippers’ main offensive threats.
Griffin had 23 points, but he was only eight for 21 from the field, one for seven from three-point range. Williams had 20 points off the bench, but he made only six of 18 shots, one of seven from beyond the arc.
“It makes it tougher when you have two guys in general when you’re not shooting the ball well,” Griffin said. “But we just have to trust our offense. I know I have to do a better job of just keeping it moving and making sure to get everybody else involved.”
After missing five games with a left ankle sprain, DeAndre Jordan returned to play in his 715th career game, tying him with Randy Smith for the most in franchise history.
Jordan had 15 points and 14 rebounds, along with four turnovers.
“I thought he looked OK,” Rivers said. “I think he was explosive. He had a couple of dunks. You could see he was ready to play, but he clearly wasn’t 100%. You could just see it because he didn’t roll a lot tonight, which is part of our offensive package. He didn’t get behind the defense a lot tonight. I was happy to have him on the floor.”
The East-leading Celtics were without All-Star Al Horford, who was out because of an elbow he took to the head during Tuesday night’s game against the Lakers, and key reserve Marcus Smart, who cut his hand at the team’s hotel.
They were led by Kyrie Irving’s 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Jason Tatum’s 18 points and 15 points from Morris and Terry Rozier.
“They executed probably on every point they wanted to tonight,” Griffin said. “We just did a poor job of slowing them down. You have to give them credit for the way they played. We have to do a better job.”