BOSTON: Doc Rivers’ emotional return to Boston ended with a 96-88 NBA victory for his Los Angeles Clippers over the Celtics Wednesday at TD Bank Garden.
Jamal Crawford came up big off the bench, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Clippers rallied for the victory.
Rivers, who coached the Celtics to a 416-305 regular-season record over nine years and guided them to the 17th championship in club history in 2008, admitted it was a tough night for him at the arena he once called home—maybe tougher emotionally because of the warm welcome he received.
“This is just such a classy place,” Rivers said, his voice breaking.
He was applauded warmly by Boston fans before the game, and again when the Celtics showed a video tribute to his tenure there after the first quarter.
“It was really nice when I walked out … I’m not used to walking out on that side and all those people, they lined up and I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game,” said Rivers, who landed in Los Angeles in the off-season in a deal that included the Clippers giving the Celtics a 2015 first-round draft pick.
Clippers players said before they game they wanted to make Rivers’ return to Boston a winning one.
Point guard Chris Paul scored 22 points with nine assists and seven rebounds in the victory, and Blake Griffin added 18 points for Los Angeles, who improved to 3-2 on their seven-game road trip.
“We wanted to get this one for coach and continue the momentum we’ve had on the road,” Crawford said.
Rivers’ reunion road trip continues on Thursday when the Clippers face a Brooklyn Nets team now featuring former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.