Celtics Star Tops Off Clippers In Promising Performance

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The Boston Celtics held off the Los Angeles Clippers in a 119-115 win in Los Angeles, Friday night.

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 34 points to go with his 7 rebounds and four steals and Kemba Walker finished with 24 points on 9-of-19 attempts. Since finishing 1-of-12 from the floor against the Los Angeles Lakers — Walker’s worst shooting performance of the regular season — Kemba has bounced back nicely.

Scoring 19 and 24 in the Celtics’ following games against the Golden State Warriors, and the Clippers respectively, Kemba’s on the up and up. Prior to Friday, there weren’t enough signs of late-game Kemba — the All-Star we saw throughout most of the 2019-20 campaign — to convince Celtics fans that Walker’s close to returning to his true form.

That all came before seeing Kemba drain a 12-foot stepback shot with 32 seconds left.

Kemba Walker: ‘Felt Good To See Some Shots Go Down, Late’

It was a crucial play in Boston’s win against the Clippers (113-112); a fulfilling moment for Brad Stevens’ point guard, whose road to recovery hasn’t been very smooth, up to this point.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Walker said after Friday’s win. “Felt good to see some shots go down, late. My teammates really trust in me; believe in me to take that shot. Still trying to find my rhythm. Just trying to keep going.”

If anything, his late-game heroics, even in a small sample, certainly offers hope that Walker is closer to returning to the cold, late-game executing scoring assassin he was before his nagging knee injury. The stem-cell injected left knee derailed, in some ways, his first postseason along with the beginning of his second campaign in Boston.

Brad Stevens On Kemba Walker: ‘He Was Terrific The Whole Time’

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens spoke to Walker’s effort against the Clippers.

“He was really terrific the whole time,” Stevens said Friday night. “I thought he was good on the ball, he was good off the ball. Even the shots he missed in the first half, he was getting to his spots. Defensively, I thought he really fought; he got in there. He tapped some balls, kept some balls alive in rebounds.”

Eight games in, Walker found his groove when he pulled up to California. After averaging 14.3 points at a 37.3% clip, including 29.3% from deep in his first six outings, those numbers spiked to 21.5 points at a 40.5% clip a night in San Francisco, respectively, and L.A.

And, while his 3-point shooting average (31.3%) isn’t ideal by Kemba’s standards — he shot 38.1% from behind the arc, last season — it is slowly climbing, as a result of his improved efficiency.

“He’s a competitor,” Stevens added. “I think that sometimes, guys like him, they see that other guys are out and almost take it as a bigger challenge. I saw that tonight.”

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown: Ruled Out Vs. Clippers

Jaylen Brown, who was experiencing soreness in his left knee, took the night off. The Celtics announced the late-game scratch prior to tip-off.

Next up for the Celtics on the road is the Phoenix Suns.

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