BOSTON — The 96-88 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday was literally a tale of two halves for the Celtics.
The first half was a solid all-around effort for Boston, evident by their six-point lead at the half.
That all changed in the second half, which is when the Clippers stepped their game up in all phases before coming away with a 96-88 win.
"They got stops when they needed them," Boston's Jordan Crawford told CSNNE.com. "And we didn't. They made a couple baskets when they needed them and we didn't. We had a couple spells where we couldn't score. That was the difference.
Clippers oach and former Celtics head man Doc Rivers blamed himself and the emotions he had in being back at the TD Garden for the first time since leaving, as for why the Clippers got off to a slower-than-expected start.
"I was basically useless for the first eighteen minutes of the game," Rivers said.
While there were indications that the Clippers' ratcheting up their play defensively in the second half was a factor, so was the fact that the Celtics never seemed to get into a steady flow or rhythm at either end of the floor.
And while the Celtics' second-half struggles were a collective issue on Wednesday, their leading scorer Jeff Green has been at his worst in the second half of many games.
Still, the loss on Wednesday wasn't one of them. Green scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the second half.
He came into the game shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, and just 41.9 percent in the second.
But on Wednesday, Green tried to reverse that trend as he connected on 50 percent (4-for-8) of his shots in the second half compared to hitting 6-of-15 in the first half.
Boston had moments of strong play and spurts with good runs, but there was never a sense that they had the game under control even when they were winning.
"I don't think we executed," said Boston's Gerald Wallace. "We didn't play very well offensively or defensively. We didn't share the ball offensively; we didn't swing the ball from side to side. We didn't commit to the defensive end and on the defensive end we didn't challenge them, we didn't play them, we let them do what they wanted to do offensively."
Of course part of that has to do with Clippers featuring two of the NBA's more dynamic stars in Chris Paul (22 points) and Blake Griffin (18 points).
Boston was also hurt by an ineffective bench (they were outscored 32-4 by the Clippers's second unit) and major foul trouble that forced Brad Stevens to go deeper into his bench than he normally does.
"At the end of the day, we didn't have a lot going so you kind of roll the dice or flip the coin and hope that it works," Stevens said.