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Celtics hang tough even minus Rondo

Celtics forward Paul Pierce, right, holding off Clippers forward Caron Butler, scores 22 and Boston just survives a late rally.

Associated Press

Celtics forward Paul Pierce, right, holding off Clippers forward Caron Butler, scores 22 and Boston just survives a late rally.

BOSTON — The Celtics keep rolling without Rajon Rondo.

Not even a late comeback by one of the NBA's best teams could keep Boston from beating the Clippers 106-104 on Sunday and improve to 4-0 since a knee injury ended their star point guard's season.

"A lot of people say that we don't have a chance to go to the playoffs, we can't do this, we can't do that," starting guard Avery Bradley said. "We know we have each other and we're going to go out there and fight for each other, no matter what, every single night."

Clippers star point guard Chris Paul (bruised right kneecap) missed his seventh straight game.

Los Angeles cut a 98-83 deficit to 103-101 on a 3-pointer by Eric Bledsoe with 56 seconds. Then Bradley drew an offensive foul.

Paul Pierce then held on to the ball — and was surprised that the Clippers didn't foul him — before hitting a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, capping his team-high 22 points.

"Any time the game's on the line, whether he missed 15 in a row, we know the last one's good," Celtics guard Jason Terry said of Pierce.

The teams played without the point guards voted starters in the All-Star Game. Rondo has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. With Paul out, the Clippers have lost five of seven.

Lakers win squeaker

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — In a season full of turmoil and frustration, this would have been a particularly exasperating loss for the Lakers.

One of the most accurate free throw shooters in NBA history missed two, giving the Pistons one more chance. Rookie Andre Drummond missed a one-handed dunk with Pau Gasol defending as Los Angeles held on to win 98-97.

"Every game is like a playoff game for us right now," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "And some crazy things happen in playoff games."

The Lakers, minus center Dwight Howard (right shoulder) blew an 18-point third-quarter lead and survived after Steve Nash, a career 90.4 percent free-throw shooter, missed two with 2.7 seconds left.

SPOELSTRA CLINCHES HONOR: LeBron James had 30 points, Chris Bosh scored 28 against his former team and the Heat beat host Toronto 100-85 for its 10th straight victory over the Raptors. Miami clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference as of Sunday, percentage points ahead of the Knicks, so coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff will be in charge for the All-Star Game, Feb. 17 in Houston (see rosters, 2C).

DUNCAN INJURY: No structural damage was found in the left knee of Spurs star Tim Duncan, who left Friday's game injured.

Celtics 106, Clippers 104

L.A. CLIPPERS (104): Butler 7-13 1-1 18, Griffin 8-14 4-7 20, Jordan 4-7 4-6 12, Bledsoe 9-15 3-4 23, W.Green 1-3 0-0 2, Odom 3-3 0-0 6, Barnes 0-6 0-0 0, Crawford 8-15 3-3 23, Turiaf 0-1 0-0 0, Hill 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 40-79 15-21 104.

BOSTON (106): Pierce 7-16 4-5 22, Bass 3-7 3-4 9, Garnett 5-9 2-2 12, Lee 2-6 2-2 7, Bradley 2-8 0-0 4, Collins 1-1 5-5 7, Terry 5-7 1-1 13, J.Green 4-6 3-4 14, Barbosa 5-10 3-4 14, Wilcox 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 36-72 23-27 106.

L.A. Clippers 30 10 37 27— 104

Boston 33 26 33 14— 106

3-Point GoalsL.A. Clippers 9-21 (Crawford 4-7, Butler 3-5, Bledsoe 2-3, W.Green 0-2, Barnes 0-4), Boston 11-18 (Pierce 4-6, J.Green 3-3, Terry 2-4, Barbosa 1-2, Lee 1-3). ReboundsL.A. Clippers 48 (Griffin 11), Boston 37 (Bass 8). AssistsL.A. Clippers 27 (Bledsoe 10), Boston 23 (Terry 6). Total FoulsL.A. Clippers 26, Boston 22. TechnicalsL.A. Clippers defensive three second 2, Garnett, Boston defensive three second. A18,624 (18,624).

Lakers 98, Pistons 97

L.A. LAKERS (98): World Peace 3-8 1-2 8, Clark 6-11 4-6 17, Gasol 10-18 3-4 23, Nash 5-10 1-3 11, Bryant 8-20 2-3 18, Jamison 3-8 3-4 10, Blake 2-5 0-0 6, Meeks 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 39-83 14-22 98.

DETROIT (97): Singler 4-12 1-2 11, Maxiell 3-7 2-2 8, Monroe 9-14 2-2 20, Knight 3-13 4-4 10, Stuckey 3-6 0-0 6, Jerebko 2-3 0-0 5, Drummond 4-10 1-4 9, English 0-0 0-0 0, Bynum 9-18 0-1 18, Villanueva 4-9 0-0 10. Totals 41-92 10-15 97.

L.A. Lakers 32 30 16 20— 98

Detroit 27 24 21 25— 97

3-Point GoalsL.A. Lakers 6-20 (Blake 2-3, Meeks 1-2, Jamison 1-3, Clark 1-3, World Peace 1-4, Nash 0-2, Bryant 0-3), Detroit 5-14 (Singler 2-4, Villanueva 2-4, Jerebko 1-1, Bynum 0-1, Stuckey 0-1, Knight 0-3). ReboundsL.A. Lakers 50 (Gasol, Clark 10), Detroit 58 (Monroe 12). AssistsL.A. Lakers 24 (Nash 10), Detroit 26 (Bynum 10). Total FoulsL.A. Lakers 15, Detroit 18. TechnicalsStuckey. Flagrant Fouls—World Peace. A18,157 (22,076).

Heat 100, Raptors 85

MIAMI (100): James 10-16 9-12 30, Haslem 2-3 0-0 4, Bosh 12-19 3-3 28, Chalmers 1-6 0-0 2, Wade 10-18 3-4 23, Allen 0-2 1-2 1, Battier 2-5 0-0 5, Andersen 0-1 1-2 1, Lewis 1-1 0-0 2, Cole 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 40-75 17-23 100.

TORONTO (85): Gay 11-23 6-7 29, Johnson 1-4 0-0 2, Gray 3-6 0-4 6, Lowry 3-7 3-4 10, DeRozan 6-17 14-14 27, Anderson 1-7 2-3 4, Lucas 1-6 0-0 2, Ross 1-4 0-0 3, Valanciunas 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-75 25-32 85.

Miami 24 20 27 29— 100

Toronto 21 29 17 18— 85

3-Point GoalsMiami 3-12 (Bosh 1-1, James 1-2, Battier 1-3, Wade 0-1, Cole 0-1, Chalmers 0-2, Allen 0-2), Toronto 4-18 (Lowry 1-2, DeRozan 1-3, Ross 1-3, Gay 1-5, Lucas 0-2, Anderson 0-3). ReboundsMiami 43 (James 8), Toronto 52 (Gray 12). AssistsMiami 19 (James 7), Toronto 15 (Lowry, DeRozan, Anderson 3). Total FoulsMiami 23, Toronto 24. A19,800 (19,800).

Celtics hang tough even minus Rondo 02/03/13 [Last modified: Sunday, February 3, 2013 8:09pm]
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