BOSTON (AP) - Blake Griffin had one of his worst games. His teammates, led by Clippers newcomer Mo Williams, more than made up for it.
Williams scored 28 points, the most in his five games since being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles withstood a late Boston surge to beat the Celtics 108-103 on Wednesday night for its fourth straight win.
Griffin struggled against a tight defense and missed easy shots when he was open. He scored 12 points, just two more than his career low, and made four field goals, matching his fewest as a pro. He also missed 10 shots for a .286 percentage, his third worst, and managed just seven rebounds, his fourth fewest.
``I know I didn't play well at all, but I'm more than happy with the win,' Griffin said.
Williams, playing 41 minutes, was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, including two that blunted one of the Celtics' comebacks.
``They're a really good defensive team,' he said. ``If you just try to give the ball to Blake, it's not going to be effective. ... He was a little frustrated down the stretch but he kept his composure.'
The Clippers took their biggest lead at 65-42 two minutes into the third quarter. They still led 84-68 with 10:28 left in the game before the Celtics went on a 15-2 run that closed the gap to 86-83 on a jumper by Kevin Garnett with 5:39 remaining.
Los Angeles increased that to 104-93, but Boston had one last comeback, scoring the next seven points to make it 104-100. But it came no closer.
The Celtics, whose last lead was 10-9, were led by Ray Allen with 23 points, Nenad Krstic with 20 and Paul Pierce with 19. They trailed 30-17 after one quarter and lost for the first time in six games since obtaining Krstic and Jeff Green in a trade with Oklahoma City. They've added three other players since then.
``It's a lot of inconsistency,' Pierce said. ``Some of that had to do with implementing a lot of new guys but ... we've got to get off to better starts and that's with the guys that have been here.'
With Griffin struggling, DeAndre Jordan had a season-high 21 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers and Randy Foye had 12 assists.
``You definitely want to keep the ball out of Griffin's hands,' Pierce said. ``We did focus on their star, but I feel like we forgot about the other guys and those are the guys that beat us.'
The Celtics trailed 60-42 at halftime as the Clippers outshot them 67.6 to 40 percent, despite only six points and one rebound from Griffin.
Los Angeles took its 65-42 lead when Ryan Gomes started the third quarter with a 3-pointer and Foye got a basket on a goaltending call against Garnett. But Boston came back, finishing the quarter with an 11-3 run. A layup by Green with 2.1 seconds remaining cut the lead to 76-66 heading into the final period.
That didn't start well for Boston, as Los Angeles scored the first six points. Two free throws by Krstic and a basket by Los Angeles' Eric Bledsoe made it 84-68. That's when the Celtics went on their first big run that had the fans on their feet, clapping loudly.
Krstic scored the first five points in that surge before Chris Kaman hit a jumper for the Clippers. Then Boston scored the next 10 and, suddenly, it was 86-83 with nearly half a quarter to go.
But Los Angeles responded with an 18-10 spurt in which Williams had nine points on two 3-pointers and three free throws, making it 104-93.
``There's so much attention to Blake, but you win as a team,' Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. ``The reason we're playing a little bit better is that we have weapons.'
After Boston cut the lead to 104-100, Pierce missed a 3-pointer and Jordan hit two free throws.
``Mo told me just go up there and Blake told me I was going to knock them down,' Jordan said. ``Having those guys have the confidence in me, I went up there and had confidence in myself.'
Allen then sank a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to go, giving Boston hope at 106-103. But Foye was fouled and made both free throws before Pierce threw up a desperation 3-pointer that missed badly.
``Our energy was really low to start the game,' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ``Once you turn a team on and they start making shots, they're comfortable.'
Notes: The Clippers' 60 points in the first half were the second-most against the Celtics in any half this season. Boston allowed 61 points in a half in three other games. ... The Celtics were called for defensive 3-second violations twice in the first half. ... The Clippers tried to get fancy at the end of the first half, but Williams' alley-oop pass was several feet too high for even Griffin. ... Eric Gordon, the Clippers' top scorer, missed his second straight game with a fracture and a sprain in his right wrist. ... For Boston, Glen Davis sat out his third game with a strained left patella tendon and Delonte West missed his fifth with a sprained right ankle.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved