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 Los Angeles 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.”
The Clippers played without their own brilliant point guard. Chris Paul missed his seventh straight game with a bruised right knee cap.
But they cut a 98-83 deficit to 103-101 on a 3-pointer by Eric Bledsoe with 56 seconds remaining. Then Bradley drew an offensive foul on Los Angeles’ Jamal Crawford with 26 seconds to go.
Paul Pierce then held on to the ball — and was surprised that the Clippers didn’t foul him — before making a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to clinch the win and finish with a team-high 22 points.
“If we get a stop there (with) three or four seconds to go, we’ve got plenty of time,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of his decision not to foul. “If I was going to do it, I would have fouled Courtney Lee early right when he got the ball.”
But he didn’t want to foul Pierce, an accurate shooter down the stretch whether from the field or the free throw line.
“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.
The teams played without the point guards voted starters in the All-Star game in Houston on Feb. 17. Rondo has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.