Boston Celtics

Celtics fall to youthful Clippers, 108-103


Celtics fall to youthful Clippers, 108-103

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON The Boston Celtics' plan was a simple one: Limit the highlight-reel plays generated by Los Angeles Clippers All-Star and rookie phenom, Blake Griffin.

There's just one problem with that.

They forgot the other four guys on the floor with him can make plays as well.

The C's know that now after the Clippers dominated the Celtics -- yes, those Clippers -- from the beginning until the bitter end of a 108-103 loss for Boston (46-16).

After struggling for three-plus quarters, Boston mounted a furious last-second rally.

Trailing 104-100 with possession of the ball and 25.3 seconds remaining, the C's called a time out.

Out of the time out, Paul Pierce took a contested 3-pointer that was off the mark. DeAndre Jordan grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled with 15.6 seconds to play.

Jordan sank both free throws, but the Celtics weren't ready to roll over just yet.

A 3-pointer by the 3-point king, Ray Allen, made it a one-possession game with 10.5 seconds to play.

Following a Clippers time out, Randy Foye was fouled with 9.1 seconds to play. He made both of his free throws to make it a 108-103 game to secure the win.

The ending was symbolic of the kind of night it was for the Celtics. Every big play by Boston was met with an even bigger one by the Clippers.

With the loss, Boston's five-game winning streak is over, while the Clippers (25-40) continue to surge ahead by winning their fourth straight game.

So much of the attention leading up to the game was on Griffin, who had 12 points and seven rebounds to go with five assists.

But it was Griffin's less-heralded teammates that inflicted most of the damage.

DeAndre Jordan had 21 points, most of which came on Blake Griffin-esque dunks.

However, the Clippers and the Celtics are at opposite ends of the winning spectrum this season.

And in the third quarter, we saw why.

Boston, which fell behind by as many as 20 points in the first half, cut the Clippers lead to just 11 points following a 3-pointer by Pierce.

They had a chance to make it a single digit game, but Jeff Green missed a lightly contested jumper.

Still, the C's were feeling pretty confident going into the fourth down 76-66.

With more than five minutes to play, the C's were very much back in the game, but the energy Boston exerted to get back in the game started to catch up with them, as players started missing a number of the shots that they had made earlier during fourth quarter surge.

Former Celtic Ryan Gomes delivered one of the biggest shots of the night, a 3-pointer in front of the Celtics bench, with four minutes to play that gave the Clippers a 10-point lead.

That was one of many baskets made by the youthful Clippers down the stretch, as they snapped a three-game losing skid to the Celtics at the TD Garden.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety


NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.