Celtics

6 takeaways as Celtics shoot 4-for-42 from 3 in loss to Clippers

The Celtics found a new way to lose on Wednesday.

Clippers Celtics takeaways
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown shoots over Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann. AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Here are the takeaways as the Celtics made history with their poor 3-point shooting in a 91-82 loss to the depleted Clippers on Wednesday.

1. Give this to the Celtics: They continue to find creative ways to lose. On Christmas Day, they gave fans just enough hope they might beat the Bucks until the defending champions took their first lead of the game with 30 seconds remaining. On Monday, they lost to perhaps the most COVID-depleted team in the NBA — the Timberwolves, who were without their entire starting lineup.

And on Wednesday, they shot an eye-popping 4-for-42 from 3-point range, falling to the Clippers (who were also very short-handed without Kawhi Leonard or Paul George). It was the second-worst 3-point percentage in NBA history (minimum 40 attempts), and it really made very little sense given the quality of the shots. The Clippers played a 2-3 zone, and Celtics players drove and kicked to wide-open shooters over and over and over, but nothing seemed to be working.

Advertisement:

“It’s just not going to happen,” Mike Gorman muttered on the NBC Sports Boston broadcast at one point as Jaylen Brown clanked a triple from the corner.

The Celtics missed four more 3-pointers after he said it

2. As an aside, Grant Williams kept trucking along as one of the best 3-point shooters in the league: While the rest of his teammates hit everything except for the bottom of the net, Williams was quietly 2-for-3 from deep in 20 minutes.

3. Jaylen Brown didn’t have his best game, but his stat line was a bit misleading: 30 points on 36 shots with zero assists.

However, Brown gave his teammates opportunities.

“Nobody tries to miss shots on purpose,” Udoka said. “We’re being unselfish and passing the ball to get wide open shots against the zone. That’s what they’re trying to do, protect the paint and make us take those threes.”

Meanwhile, several of Brown’s misses were somewhat desperate down the stretch as the Celtics tried to get back into the game. He was inefficient, but even with his last few field-goal attempts, he was more efficient than his teammates. The Celtics simply didn’t have any better options on Wednesday.

4. Robert Williams bounced back a bit too, finishing 8-for-10 from the floor. He was one of several Celtics who capitalized on all the missed 3-pointers, snagging 10 offensive boards. As a team, the Celtics collected 21 offensive rebounds and outscored the Clippers 28-8 on second-chance points.

Advertisement:

Williams, fortunately, seemed to avoid serious injury after landing in an ugly way — his face bouncing off the floor. He went back to the locker room but later returned to the game.

5. Al Horford — one of the brave souls who spoke after the Timberwolves loss — admitted via Twitter that Wednesday’s loss was a tough one.

“I think it’s unfortunate timing because we wanted to respond from last game,” Brown said. “A lot of those guys came out ready to fight, and we just came up short. We came up f—ing short.”

For two years now, the Celtics have sounded similar after losses.

“Nobody’s expecting you to come out and hit home runs,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to hit singles, man. As well as inspire my teammates in that regard, I’m also taking to myself in making the game easier. Like I said, we missed a lot of easy looks and things like that. I guess we’re due for a lot of makes. If we’re wide open we’ve gotta keep shooting it with confidence. I keep telling my guys that.”

6. The Celtics still have plenty of time to make some noise — January’s schedule is much easier — and they could work their way back into the playoff picture.

Advertisement:

As of right now, though, they are just two games out of 13th in the crowded Eastern Conference, and half a game out of 12th. With the Suns looming on Friday, they could slide even further.

“I know tonight resulted in a loss, but I think we’ll be better off,” Brown said. “I think that guys are figuring things out just like I was figuring things out. Just like each and every night. And I’m not making an excuse whatsoever. So I accept the challenge, and I’m going to continue to find ways to learn and grow, to be better for my team, to be better for the organization and go from there.

“That’s all we can do.”

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com