LOS ANGELES (TICKER) —The Boston Celtics may have found a formula that works in crunch time.
Boston scored the final 12 points in Thursday’s victory at Portland and improved to 3-0 on its six-game road trip with a similar effort against Los Angeles. The Celtics scored 14 of the game’s final 16 points to extend their overall winning streak to four games.
“We are a great team in the fourth quarter,” Pierce said. “We have done this the whole season. When we’re down, I think we play better. The guys came up with big plays and big stops when we needed them.”
“We grind it out on the defensive end and Paul and I have enough confidence where we can make shots down the stretch,” Walker said. “We’ve all got confidence that we can make big plays.”
The Clippers had an 82-78 lead after Cherokee Parks buried two free throws with 2:38 left. But Los Angeles did not score again until Corey Maggette made a pair of meaningless foul shots in the final seconds.
“We had tough stops,” Boston coach Jim O’Brien said. “Down the stretch we did the things this team has been consistent in doing the last couple years.”
Rookie J.R. Bremer and Pierce each buried a pair of free throws to forge an 82-82 tie with 1:46 to go. Eric Williams gave Boston the lead for good with a fast-break layup off a steal 26 seconds later.
Walker converted a three-point play with 65 seconds remaining and sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 41 seconds to play.
The Clippers committed six turnovers and made just 6-of-20 shots in the fourth quarter. They had four turnovers in a span of 1:43 and lost the lead before coach Alvin Gentry was ejected with 42 seconds remaining.
“We’ve just got to execute,” Gentry said. “There is no magic formula. We’ve got to make good plays and decisions down the stretch. When the game was on the line, we turned it over four times. You can’t do that in a close game and expect to win.”
“Turnovers led to easy layups that they got,” Los Angeles forward Elton Brand said. “You can’t defend that. When you don’t execute at the end and at least get a shot up, we have to go to the next option.”
Walker had nine rebounds and Pierce added eight for the Celtics, who shot just 39 percent (31-of-80) from the field but made eight 3-pointers and outscored the Clippers, 22-9, at the line.
Brand collected 26 points and 12 rebounds and Maggette finished with 20 and nine for Los Angeles, which has lost its last six meetings with Boston.
The Clippers made only 9-of-14 free throws and committed 21 turnovers leading to 19 points for the the Celtics.
Neither team led by more than seven in the first three quarters. Los Angeles scored seven straight points to match its largest lead at 78-72 lead on Brand’s dunk with 5:24 remaining.
Walker responded with a 3-pointer and, after a jumper by Brand, Pierce buried a nother shot from beyond the arc with 3:41 to go.
But Clippers guard Lamar Odom committed two turnovers and a foul in 51 seconds to set up the free throws that would spark the Celtics.