Neither Chris Paul nor Rajon Rondo played his best in the Los Angeles Clippers' rout of the Boston Celtics in December, forcing their teammates to pick up the slack.
The rematch figures to present a similar situation.
Boston looks to win a fourth straight game since Rondo's season-ending injury on Sunday when it hosts Los Angeles, which may not have Paul for a seventh straight contest.
Rondo scored 10 points, hit 4 of 12 from the field and committed four turnovers, while Paul - who did have 11 assists - scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in the Clippers' 106-77 victory Dec. 27.
It marked the worst loss and the fewest points of the season for the Celtics (23-23).
They also dropped the final six games Rondo played, blowing a 27-point lead at Atlanta on Jan. 25 when he tore his ACL.
Boston, though, hasn't lost since Rondo suffered the injury, getting back to .500 by beating Orlando 97-84 on Friday as six players scored in double figures.
"We have to be a team by committee,' coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm asking guys to play different spots. It does create confusion on the other end.'
The Celtics also found out before Friday's contest rookie Jared Sullinger would be out for the rest of the season following back surgery.
"With the injuries, a number of guys are stepping up and that's what we are going to need,' said Paul Pierce, who had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Courtney Lee, who has been starting in Rondo's place, scored 14 points and Jeff Green netted a game-high 17 off the bench.
"The production is coming from everybody,' Lee said. "Now we just have to move the ball and make sure we are in the right spots to execute the offense.'
The Clippers haven't had nearly the same success lately without Paul, who has missed nine of the last 11 games because of a bruised right kneecap.
Los Angeles won three straight from Jan. 14-17 when his injury first surfaced. It split two games before he re-aggravated it, then has dropped four of the last six after falling 98-73 at Toronto on Friday - its worst loss of the season.
The Clippers (34-14) also played without key reserve Matt Barnes, who was serving a one-game suspension for hitting Minnesota's Greg Stiemsma on Wednesday.
"We have to play with an edge more, especially on the road and especially when guys are out," coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Though Paul is likely to be out again, Barnes should be back to help an offense that set a season low for points and field-goal percentage (34.7).
"We didn't execute very well, we didn't shoot it very well,' Del Negro said. "We struggled in a lot of areas. I don't think any of the rotations or anything were very efficient.'
Barnes scored a season high-tying 21 points and Blake Griffin added 15 and eight rebounds in the December rout of the Celtics, who shot 40.3 percent.
The Clippers have lost four of their last five on the road.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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