Doc Rivers who led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA title returned for the first time with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night and beat Boston 96-88.
Guard Jamal Crawford scored 21 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers 23 seconds apart to help the Clippers pull away in the final few minutes.
“It was just a really nice day,” said Rivers, choking back tears in his postgame news conference. “This is, it’s just such a classy place here. … They cheer for their teams and they love their athletes. The best decision I ever made was 10 years ago, when I decided to come.”
Chris Paul had 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds while Blake Griffin chipped in 18 points for Los Angeles.
Jeff Green scored 29 points against his former coach, who was traded to Los Angeles last summer for a first-round draft pick.
Rivers got a standing ovation when he walked onto the court for warm-ups, another healthy cheer when he was introduced and a bigger one after a video on the scoreboard ended with, “Thank you, Doc!”
“I’m an emotional guy,” Rivers said beforehand. “I just hope I can coach tonight.”
Los Angeles led 73-71 midway through the fourth quarter when Darren Collison scored six straight points.
The Clippers had an 85-83 lead with under 3 minutes left when Crawford made back-to-back 3 pointers.
Boston cut it to five on Jordan Crawford’s 3-pointer, but never got closer.
“It wasn’t emotional,” said Green, one of just a handful of Celtics remaining from last year’s team. “We were just trying to win a game, plain and simple.”